Rabbitohs Claim Gutsy Victory Over Sharks
The South Sydney Rabbitohs have claimed their second victory in as many weeks, defeating the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 12-6 at ANZ Stadium in Round 24 of the NRL Telstra Premiership.
The grinding victory over the high-flying Sharks was arguably the Rabbitohs strongest defensive showing in 2016, with the side holding the Shire-based side to six points despite facing significant pressure throughout the match.
Difficult conditions combined with strong showings in defence ensured that neither side would have an impact on the scoreboard in the early stages of the encounter.
However, it appeared that the Rabbitohs had claimed the first points of the match when Ben Barba was caught in his in-goal area before offloading the ball into the hands of John Sutton, who grounded the ball, only for the veteran to be denied due to an offside ruling.
With the rain falling consistently, both sides looked to control the match through their kicking games, forcing the opposition to work the ball out of their half whilst also applying pressure through the use of high kicks.
South Sydney were dealt a major blow when halfback, Adam Reynolds was taken from the field after a head clash with Sharks skipper, Wade Graham. Reynolds would take no further part in the game due to the incident.
Despite the absence of their chief playmaker, the Rabbitohs would continue their strong start to the match, as Cody Walker took on the line, stepping off his left foot to beat the Sharks defence and draw first blood in the 33rd minute of the match. Damien Cook added the extras leaving the score at 6-0 in favour of South Sydney.
The Rabbitohs would extend their lead courtesy of a penalty goal to Damien Cook on the siren, with the score line sitting at 8-0 heading into the break.
On resumption, the Rabbitohs would be dealt another blow, as Kyle Turner was escorted off the field with a leg injury. Despite this, South Sydney continued to impress in defence, with the Red and Greens absorbing the constant pressure that was placed on their goal line.
The Sharks would eventually open their account in the 53rd minute when Wade Graham ran a well-directed line to pierce through a hole in the Rabbitohs defence. James Maloney made no mistake with the kick, reducing the deficit to two points at 8-6.
An arm-wrestle would ensue, with both sides displaying desperation in attack and defence to remain in the contest. It would not be until the final minute of the match that the result was put beyond doubt when Joe Burgess showcased his athleticism to score in the corner and seal the result.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 12 (Cody Walker, Joe Burgess tries; Damien Cook 2 goals)
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 6 (Wade Graham try; James Maloney 1 goal)