The South Sydney Rabbitohs continued to gather momentum in Round 12 with a 22-16 victory over the Gold Coast Titans, backing up their last minute Round 11 win against the Parramatta Eels.
Leading into the clash with the Titans, the side received a significant boost with the return of Greg Inglis. The Rabbitohs custodian missed the prior match due to representative duties and would provide added potency for his team in both attack and defence against the Gold Coast.
South Sydney would be seeking to emulate their last performance against the Titans at Cbus Super Stadium, with the red and green’s winning 40-18 in their 2014 encounter at the venue. Souths’ record against the Gold Coast would provide the team with an advantage, as they had won seven of their twelve matches against the men from north of the border since coming into the competition.
The Rabbitohs were required to show character to grind to a 22-16 victory over the home-side, who showed great determination and refused to go down without a fight.
From the get-go, the men in red and green were on the attack, forcing the Titans to work hard in defence. Despite the early bombardments from the Rabbitohs, the Gold Coast proved that they were up to the task, absorbing wave after wave of attack.
The show of character displayed by the Titans was soon rewarded, with the team producing points with their first set within the Rabbitohs red zone, after just 10 minutes of the opening stanza. The try – scored in the corner by Anthony Don – was not converted, leaving the score at 4-0 in favour of the home-side.
It took the Rabbitohs 22 minutes to trouble the scorers, but the wait was worthwhile, with Greg Inglis illustrating why he is one of the game’s premier players. The fullback showed brute strength as well as speed and agility to bust through the Titans defensive line from close-range. before diving over under the uprights. Isaac Luke added the extras from right in front to provide South Sydney with a 6-4 lead.
Despite Souths dominating the match in terms of possession and attacking chances, the red and greens were unable to take advantage of the situation and add to their lead.
On the other hand, the Titans were making the most of their scarce opportunities near the Rabbitohs line. James Roberts scored the next try, with Sezer converting to set up a 10-6 score-line in favour of the Titans at the conclusion of the first stanza.
On the resumption, the scoreboard deficit was quickly erased by the Rabbitohs with John Sutton delivering a perfectly timed short-ball to Chris Grevsmuhl, who pierced the gap between two Titans defenders, to level the scores at ten apiece. Issac Luke’s conversion attempt hit the upright, leaving the scores locked.
The next ten minutes of proceedings would result in anguish for South Sydney, beginning with Aaron Gray being denied an almost certain four-pointer due to some desperate Gold Coast defence. Greater woes followed when Inglis received an accidental knock to the head whilst attempting to diffuse a kick, resulting in the custodian not taking any further part in the game.
Once Inglis was removed from the field, South Sydney were forced to re-shuffle their backline, with Alex Johnston assuming the position of the injured custodian.
Johnston was in on the action almost instantly, with the prolific try-scorer adding to his season tally after receiving a slick inside-pass from Nathan Brown, crashing over under the posts. Luke made no mistake in adding the extra points, giving his side a 16-10 lead.
The Rabbitohs were not done there though, making the most of a handling error from Kevin Gordon, allowing Chris Grevsmuhl to barge over for his second try of the afternoon. Once again, Luke had no issues in converting the try and extended South Sydney’s lead to 22-10.
Although all momentum was with Souths, the Titans turned the tables back on the Rabbitohs, capitalizing on an error from Aaron Gray and providing Anthony Don with his second try. Sezer nailed the conversion from the sideline, reducing the margin to six and keeping his side in the contest at 22-16.
It was obvious that the spirited Titans outfit was not conceding victory just yet, as they continued to attack the Rabbitohs line from close range in the dying minutes of the match. Souths had to display some outstanding defence to hold the Gold Coast out – highlighted by Johnston, who produced an outstanding try-saving tackle to jolt the ball free from the hands of Lachlan Burr as the back-rower dived over the try-line.
The game against the Titans – which was played in front of a crowd of 15,583 – provided the Rabbitohs with a crucial win, allowing the side to retain their position within the hotly contested top-eight. At this stage of the competition there was only four points separating 5th place from 14th place, illustrating the importance of each victory.
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