The St George Illawarra Dragons have taken the early points at ANZ Stadium in the under 20s, coming away with a 34-28 victory over the Rabbitohs – but it didn’t come easy for the Red V.
Playing in sweltering conditions and across four quarters, the Rabbitohs fought back from a 24-10 half-time deficit to equalise at 28 apiece late in the game before a try to the Dragons just before full-time sealed the match.
The Rabbitohs got their Charity Shield underway after just five minutes of play on the back of a Dragons mistake close to the line. Some two tackles later, Jacob McCudden hit the ball at speed to score out wide – defying a number of Dragons defenders. Harry Leddy added the extras from out wide to give Souths an early 6-0 lead.
It only took six minutes though for the Dragons to hit back, with hooker Ryan Fletcher scooting out of dummy half to score adjacent to the uprights. Paora Kemp converted to equalise at six apiece.
Saints took the lead just before the 20 minute drinks break, when winger Logan Yates spun out of a number of Souths tackles before planting the ball down millimetres inside touch. Kemp made no mistake with his pin-point conversion to make it 12-6.
Saints built on their lead after the first quarter when halfback, Jack Payne, powered his way over, and with Kemp’s conversion, the Red V jumped out to an 18-6 lead.
TJ Uele extended the lead in similar fashion to Paune’s four-pointer from the very next set, with Kemp making it four from four with the boot to take make it 24-6.
With the first half winding down, the Rabbitohs hit back with a brilliant long-range effort that saw the ball drawn and passed on three occasions before landing in the hands of an unmarked Tevita Cottrell on the Souths wing to bring the score to 24-10.
By the start of the third quarter, the Rabbitohs were upping the intensity, resulting in hooker Maia Sands grabbing himself a well-earned try after out-muscling the Dragons defence close to the line. Beau Cordtz added the extras to narrow the gap to 24-16.
Saints would have none of it though, with the side building momentum to allow centre, Reuben Garrick, to stroll over unmarked out wide to make it 28-16.
The struggle would continue though in the final quarter when Damon Goolagong sped over before bettering the position to plant the ball right behind the posts. Leddy converted to make it a six-point ball-game at 28-22 with just under 14 minutes on the clock remaining.
But a try to Josh Ellison mere moments later would narrow the gap to two points when the centre raced towards the uprights. Leddy converted to equalise the match at 28 apiece with 10 minutes left.
Logan Yates would break the deadlock for the Dragons with seven minutes in the match remaining, when he crossed for his second of the afternoon out wide. Kemp continued his impressive afternoon with the boot to make it 34-28 with his touch-line conversion.
Souths would go straight back on the attack though, and nearly came up with more points when a Harry Leddy kick into the in-goal came within a whisker of being planted down by a Rabbitohs hand.
The opportunity would ultimately be missed, with the final score reading 34-28 in favour of the Saints.
Dragons 34 (Ryan Fletcher, Logan Yates 2, Jack Payne, TJ Uele, Reuben Garrick, tries; Paora Kemp 5 goals)
Rabbitohs 28 (Jacob McCudden, Tevita Cottrell, Maia Sands, Damon Goolagong, Josh Ellison, tries; Harry Leddy 3, Beau Cordtz 1, goals)