The Rabbitohs have accounted for the St George Illawarra Dragons by 34-24 at ANZ Stadium tonight, with Bryson Goodwin and Adam Reynolds notching personal milestones in the process in front of 12,054 Members and supporters.
Goodwin celebrated his 150th first grade game by scoring two tries to bring up his 500th NRL career point, while Adam Reynolds meanwhile joined an elite point-scoring Club that includes Eric Simms, Benny Wearing and Bernie Purcell by kicking his 800th career point.
But while the Rabbitohs scored victory, it didn’t come easy.
A mistake from Thomas Burgess inside his own side of half-way, invited the Dragons to have first crack at the line, and Jake Marketo would come up with points after hitting the ball at speed to make it 4-0 after just three minutes.
Sam Burgess would also spill the ball moments later in almost exactly the same spot as his brother, again gifting Saints prime attacking position. But after a throw of the dice from the Red V, the Rabbitohs would for the third time make an error on the 40 metre-line – this time through Adam Reynolds.
But Reynolds would atone for his error by forcing a repeat set after deliberately kicking into the upright moments later. A penalty and a few tackles later, Goodwin would find himself streaking over the line to celebrate his 150th game with a try. Reynolds was unable to convert, leaving the game squared up at four apiece.
Errors would continue to affect Souths’ progress, and a penalty to the Dragons on the last tackle within kicking-distance, allowed Gareth Widdop to kick his side two points ahead at 6-4.
The Dragons would then turn defence into a try off the very first tackle of a seven tackle set – Tim Lafai racing some 80 metres of the 20 metre optional restart to score, despite the chase of Cody Walker. The failed conversion attempt left the score at 10-4.
Things would get worse for Souths when George Burgess went high on a Dragons player, allowing Widdop to take yet another shot at goal – the Englishman sailing the opportunity through the posts to make it 12-4.
But while things weren’t coming easy for the Rabbitohs, a phenomenal 30 metre cut-out pass from Inglis to Nielsen millimetres in from touch saw the Indigenous winger grab his side’s second of the night. Reynolds again was unable to convert, leaving the score at 12-8.
On the stroke of half-time and with Souths attacking, Cody Walker injected himself into the front-line on the final tackle, grubbering for himself before regathering to score a brilliant try himself – Walker pointing to his tribe on the Club’s Indigenous jersey in celebration. Reynolds added the extras to give Souths an unlikely half-time lead.
Two drop-balls from the Rabbitohs in the opening minute of the first half, as well as a penalty saw the Dragons given multiple sets of six to score points. But while Souths’ defence would hold strong, the boot of Gareth Widdop would equalise at 14 apiece with another penalty-goal.
Souths would bounce back mere moments later though, when Adam Reynolds kicked across-field, with the ball ending up in the hands of Kyle Turner, who scored his second try of the season. Reynolds converted to take a 20-14 lead.
The Dragons would get one back though when Kalifa Faifai Loa took advantage of a lack or urgency from the Rabbitohs defence to narrow the gap to 20-18.
The men in Red and Green would extend their lead with 18 minutes in the match remaining when a kick in-goal saw Paul Carter pounce on the ball next to the sticks despite an attempt from Josh Dugan to force a line drop-out. Reynolds converted to take the score to 26-18.
With six minutes in the match remaining, Reynolds hoisted a kick into in-goal that saw Goodwin soar to score his second try of the game and his 500th NRL point. Reynolds added the extras in fine style from out wide to make it 32-24.
A final penalty to the Rabbitohs would cap off the night for the side and for Reynolds, who kicked a simple penalty-goal to notch up his 800th point.
Rabbitohs 34 (Bryson Goodwin 2, Dane Nielsen, Cody Walker, Kyle Turner, Paul Carter, tries; Adam Reynolds 5 goals)
Dragons 24 (Jake Martketo, Tim Lafai, Kalifa Faifai Loa, Will Matthews, tries; Gareth Widdop 5 goals)