A 40-point second half blitz by the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks has sunk the young Rabbitohs and ended their 8-match unbeaten streak at Southern Cross Group Stadium tonight.
The young Rabbitohs came into the clash with the ladder leading young Sharks at Southern Cross Group Stadium on a hot streak - claiming six wins and two draws in their last eight fixtures.
Kicking off, the underdogs in Red and Green match it with the Sharks set for set for the opening minutes of the game.
The Rabbitohs came close to scoring when Nic Mougios made a strong charge for the line only to be held short in the 5th minute. Only 2 minutes later a massive run by Josh Saunders again almost saw the visitors open the score but the big prop was held up.
It would prove third time lucky for the Rabbitohs as fullback Beau Cordtz made a line break and carried the ball 20 metres to score, stepping fullback William Kennedy in the process. Hawkins missed the conversion and the Souths claimed a 4-0 lead after 9 minutes.
Ryan Carr’s men would maintain the energy against the Cronulla Sharks, with the under pressure Sharks committing several costly penalties. Slammin’ Sam Johnstone would capitalise on this pressure, barging through next to the posts to claim the Rabbitohs next try. Hawkins would successfully convert this one. Rabbitohs 10-0 after 17 minutes.
The Sharks continued their uncharacteristically error-filled first half and the Rabbitohs would cross again just two minutes later after a magical cut-out ball by Dean Hawkins found Jalen Reweti who finished well in the left corner. Hawkins would just miss the conversion and the Rabbitohs bounced out to a 14-0 lead.
The home side would find their way back into the game in the 28th minute after a slick backline shift opened a hole for halfback Kyle Flanagan to dart through and score just left of the posts. He’d convert his own effort and the Sharks would reduce the deficit to 14-6.
It would turn into an entertaining contest of end-to-end footy with both teams having fair chances to score. A Dean Hawkins bomb would be mishandled in the 31st minute but a Harry Leddy attacking grubber from dummy-half would prove too heavy to capitalise on. At the other end, Nic Mougios would be penalised for failing to release on our 300m line (that’s actually what it was marked as) but the Rabbitohs goal line defence would prove too strong.
The score would remain 14-6 as the teams went into the sheds at half time.
Souths would start the second half strongly with a Hawkins kick being knocked on by the Sharks backline. Sam Johnstone would get big post-contact metres to get us in position but spill the ball as he went to ground.
The Sharks would repel our early attacks and attack our edges, Sione Katoa breaking the line in the 49th minute on the right wing to streak away and score in the corner. Kyle Flanagan couldn’t slot the conversion and the home side would sit just four points shy of the Rabbitohs at 14-10.
While the Rabbitohs had chances to attack the Sharks try line, the first 20 minutes of the second half would belong to the Sharks. The home side would tie it up with a try in the 56th minute to forward Josh Carr right under the sticks. Flanagan would convert to take the lead for the home side at 16-14.
Josh Carr would go back-to-back just a few minutes later, running support for Kyle Flanagan who made a line break from the 40m line to set-up the interchange forward. Flanagan converted from right in front of the sticks and the Sharks gained a firm grip on the lead at 22-14 after 60 minutes.
The Sharks blitz would show no signs of slowing down as they crossed again through Britt Nikora in the 65th minute. Flanagan would convert. Sharks 28 – 14 Souths.
John Tufuga would get in on the action for the home side – scoring under the posts in the 69th minute. Flanagan converted again and the Sharks ran out a 20 point margin to 34-14.
Sione Katoa would grab his second in the 75th minute to put the result beyond doubt.
Sharks 40 (Josh Carr 2, Sione Katoa 2, Kyle Flanagan, Briton Nikora, John Tufuga tries; Flanagan 6 goals)
Souths 14 (Beau Cordtz, Sam Johnstone, Jalen Reweti tries; Hawkins goals)