The young Rabbitohs have continued their charge up the NYC Ladder with a hard-fought 38-16 win over 3rd-placed St George Illawarra Dragons at Allianz Stadium today in Round 22.
After their demolition of the Canberra Raiders last Saturday, the junior Rabbitohs were looking to continue their bid for a top eight spot against the third placed Dragons at Allianz Stadium.
The game would start off in the worst possible manner for the Red and Greens, with some poor communication forcing a drop out, however a forced error on the next set would gift possession back to the away side.
The Rabbitohs would go close to scoring just five minutes in from a clever Dean Hawkins grubber close to the line, which would earn a drop out, and after a penalty for a strip on Siosifa Talakai, winger Tyrone Taukamo would reap the rewards with a try off a Hawkins cut out pass, who would also kick the conversion from the sideline.
The dry track would prove to be an asset for both teams getting a roll on through the middle with some, and front rower Sam Johnston would nearly crash over only to be held up short from the line
A high tackle on five-eighth Harry Leddy would gift the Rabbitohs prime position to capitalise on, and after breaking through the defence, second rower Talakai would barge over the line, taking four defenders with him. Hawkins would convert the try to give them a 12 point lead.
More ill-discipline would aid the search for points, and a knock on by winger Taukamo would allow the Dragons to make their way upfield thanks to some quick hands, however Mawene Hiroti would diffuse the situation with a well- timed intercept.
Strong compressed defence would keep the Dragons at bay, however back to back penalties would ensure they got to chance their arm against the Red and Green wall, which would continue to keep any points from being leaked.
The Rabbitohs would continue their try scoring ways with a clever inside ball to Gabe Hamlin from 20 metres out seeing the barnstorming lock get his own four pointer. Hawkins would again convert the try.
Further indiscretions against the Red and Greens would make for some easy territory, however their wall of defence would finally be penetrated with less than two minutes to go in the half with a try to hooker Joe Lovodua.
An obstruction penalty followed by a head high tackle would handed over possession to the Dragons who would go back to back four-pointers through Hayden Lomax, with a failed conversion kick.
The Rabbitohs would suffer a big blow with front rower Josh Saunders taken off the field via medicab immediately after.
A half break by winger Tyrone Taukamo after some confusion under the high ball would relieve some pressure, however Talakai would lose possession a few tackles later.
Back to back drop outs would force the Rabbitohs to defend their line, and the Red V would cross over again in the 24th minute with a right side sweep allowing winger Jason Gillard go over, with Jackson Willis converting the try.
The pressure would only mount as fullback Beau Cordtz lost possession just ten minutes out on the ensuing set, however the young Rabbitohs would make sure they wouldn’t let their lead go easily.
Some Harry Leddy brilliance would bring the lead back in favour to the Red and Greens, with the classy five-eighth slicing through the Dragons defence, putting the ball down in the right hand corner. Dean Hawkins again showed off his goal kicking prowess by nailing the conversion from the sideline.
Leddy then turned from hero to villain by losing the ball off the kickoff, however the Dragons would prove to be their own worst enemy by losing possession a few sets later.
Some quick play the balls would begin a roll on up the middle, and halfback Dean Hawkins would cut the defence to ribbons, adding his name to the scoresheet. He would convert his own try giving the Rabbitohs a 14 point lead with ten minutes to go.
Back to back penalties saw Hawkins further his tally with a penalty goal in the 71st minute, and Gabe Hamlin nearly extended the lead a few minutes later only to fall short of the line.
Tyrone Taukamo would be sent to the sin bin in the last five minutes after giving away back to back penalties, however it would have no effect as Beau Cordtz made a 30 metres blitz down the left side, with Hawkins converting the try in their 22 point win.
Rabbitohs 38 (Tyrone Taukamo, Siosifa Talakai, Gabe Hamlin, Harry Leddy, Dean Hawkins, Beau Cordtz tries; Dean Hawkins 7 goals)
Dragons 16 (Joe Lovodua, Hayden Lomax, Jason Gillard tries; Jackson Willis 3 goals)