The South Sydney Rabbitohs have been left to lick their wounds after a heavy 32-12 defeat to the St George Illawarra Dragons at WIN Stadium, Wollongong.
From the very first play of the match, it was clear it wasn’t to be South Sydney’s night.
Lachlan Ilias spilled the ball from the kick-off, the Dragons posted their first points after another error, and completely dominated the first half from that point on.
A sign of that dominance was the fact during a 20-minute period in the first stanza, the Rabbitohs had one set of six, which resulted in a set of seven tackles and yet another try to a rampant St George Illawarra outfit.
During what can only be described as a lacklustre stretch throughout that first half, the Dragons outcompeted the Rabbitohs in every facet of the game, posting six tries and taking a commanding 32-0 lead at the break.
NRL Press Conference: Dragons v Rabbitohs - Round 15, 2022
The possession for the home side was in the 70’s at stages of the first 40, with 21 missed tackles and a number of defensive lapses leading directly to tries as South Sydney found itself virtually out of the game within the first half hour.
If there was to be a saving grace to take into the sheds to coach Jason Demetriou something to work with, it was a renewed sense of effort to keep the Dragons scoreless for the final 12 minutes, and finally apply some pressure of their own.
That improved ending to the half was carried over into the second half, where South Sydney was able to keep the Dragons scoreless and win the second stanza 12-0.
Damien Cook scooted his way over from dummy half to get the Rabbitohs on the board in the 58th minute to lift the spirits, and when captain Cameron Murray barged his way over soon after, there was the faintest of hopes of a comeback.
The attack continued and South Sydney continued to ask questions of the Dragons defence, but time was always going to be against them, and a few more mistakes at pivotal times meant pride was the only thing they could get out of the last part of the match.
They weren’t able to cross the stripe again, and were left to lament what went wrong to start the game.
The NRL has a league-wide bye next week for Origin and international rep fixtures, meaning the Rabbitohs will have a fortnight off before returning home to Accor Stadium to take on the Parramatta Eels in round 16.