The South Sydney Rabbitohs have gone down 26-12 in a close encounter against the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks tonight (Friday) in their Round 21 away match at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
Michael Maguire made slight changes to his line-up with Braidon Burns named to replace Aaron Gray on the wing while Kyle Turner moved onto the bench in place of Jason Clark. The Sharks also made some late changes with Jack Bird and Sam Tagataese out of their line-up with Kurt Capewell starting in the centre position while Jeremy Latimore moved onto the bench.
Players within the Rabbitohs squad sported pink BodyScience shorts underneath their kit in support of the NRL’s Women in League Round.
Kick off sent an adrenalin rush across the stadium with a crowd of 12,123 coming out to cheer on their teams in the icy weather. The Sharks were on the board early in the fourth minute when a pass to Wade Graham saw the forward slip through a gap in the Rabbitohs defence. James Maloney’s successful conversion took the home side out to a strong six points to zero lead.
But the Rabbitohs wouldn’t give up early and after applying pressure on the Sharks, a penalty by Captain Paul Gallen gave the Rabbitohs another set. Souths capitalised on the opportunity and a well place grubber kick from Adam Reynolds saw Burns take the ball over the line for the Rabbitohs first try. Reynolds sealed the try levelling the scores six points each.
The Sharks powered their way into dangerous Rabbitohs territory and keeping a close eye on the back line, Fa-Amanu Brown found his way over for the Sharks second try scoring from dummy-half. Maloney keeps his kicking clean and the Rabbitohs fell behind six points to 12 with less than 20 minutes remaining in the first half.
The Sharks added another two points through a penalty kick when the Rabbitohs were called up for their marker not being square.
The ill-discipline showed earlier had a positive impact on the Red and Green players and they amped up their moves in attack. But they missed their opportunities at the Sharks line and the remaining minutes of the half would be left try-less. The Sharks would take a penalty shot to try and extend their lead in the few seconds left but Maloney’s ball missed and the first half would finish up with the Rabbitohs trailing six points to 14.
The second half saw a less than ideal start for the home side giving away a penalty on the Rabbitohs 30m line, or 300m line in honour of Sharks player Luke Lewis reaching his 300th game.
The next six minutes would see a total of three penalties conceded across both teams but it would be the Rabbitohs who would lose their momentum first when a loose offload was caught by James Segeyaro and the Sharks powered through to 20m out from the Rabbitohs line. But an error kept them at bay and the Rabbitohs got their rhythm back.
The teamwork pulled off for the Rabbitohs and John Sutton slammed his way through Shark defenders to ground the ball and add the much needed four points. Reynolds took his time to line up his kick and it was worth that wait with the ball flying through despite narrowly missing the posts. The Rabbitohs were closing in on the Sharks lead holding the scores 12 points to 14.
The pace picked up when the clock hit the 60 minute mark and the Sharks ran the ball the full length of the field placing some stress on the Rabbitohs. But Souths were rewarded with their well-kept composure and returned the drive in attack.
But the Sharks held a strong defensive line and when given the opportunity at attack they made their way over for a converted try to extend their lead 20 points to 12.
Ricky Leutele would get in on the action in the 78th minute, being awarded a try after being given the green light by the NRL Bunker. Maloney converted to end the game at 26-12 in the Sharks favour.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 26 (Ricky Leutele, Wade Graham, Fa-Amanu Brown, Gerard Beale tries; James Maloney 5 goals)
South Sydney Rabbitohs 12 (Braidon Burns, John Sutton tries; Adam Reynolds 2 goals)