A young South Sydney Rabbitohs have defeated the St George-Illawarra Dragons 20 points to 16 at the Sunshine Coast Stadium on Saturday evening.
With a top-four position in the bank, Wayne Bennett rolled out a host of new faces to take on the Dragons including Lachlan Illias who scored his first NRL try 6 minutes into his debut match after rolling a nice grubber down the short side and forcing an error from Mikaele Ravalawa and pouncing on the loose ball.
Match Highlights: Dragons v Rabbitohs
Blake Taffe stepped into the fullback jersey and the goal kicking duties converting a penalty shortly after to give the Rabbitohs a 6 point lead, and Campbell Graham made it a double-digit lead minutes later scooping up a loose ball spilled by the Dragons working it away from their goal line and racing away to score. Graham had a double in the 27th minute after the Dragons made a meal of a Benji Marshall bomb, spilling the ball in their own in-goal.
Benji Marshall was a veteran presence for the young Rabbitohs side in the first forty minutes, steering his side around and impacting the match with his kicking game including a pinpoint 40-20 and a number of high balls that were a headache for the Dragons back three.
Match: Rabbitohs v Dragons
Round 25 -
Venue: Sunshine Coast Stadium, Sunshine Coast
The Rabbitohs left edge that has been firing all year was on display early in the second half, just with a completely different group of players. Illias and Taffe combined to create the opportunity for Taane Milne to cross the line just inside the corner post, and Taffe slotted the goal from the sideline for a 20 point lead.
The Rabbitohs controlled the game for most of the second half, but momentum began to swing following some forced changes with Benji Marshall forced from the field with an ankle issue, and Peter Mamouzelos hit high by Josh Maguire and sent the Rabbitohs hooker for a HIA and the Dragons enforcer to the sin-bin. Tyrell Sloan scored the first points for the Dragons after the Rabbitohs were unable to clean up a Corey Norman grubber kick in their own in goal, and made it a double with 5 minutes left to play to even out the scoreboard at 20-10.
Mikaele Ravalawa scored the third of the Dragons tries within 9 minutes with just over a minute to play to set up the grandstand finish, but the Rabbitohs managed to defend for the final moments of the match to finish the regular season with 20 wins, their most ever wins in a season.