The Dragons stunned the Rabbitohs 32-12 at WIN Stadium on Thursday night to ensure veteran hooker Andrew McCullough celebrated his 300th NRL game in grand style.
In his second season at the Dragons after 260 games at Brisbane and eight in Newcastle, the 32-year-old got through 36 tackles and made 41 running metres in his milestone match.
The win was the Dragons' seventh of the season and carries them into the top eight for the time being at least.
The signs were bad for the Rabbitohs early when Lachlan Ilias spilled the kick-off and they continued to make errors through the opening 15 minutes as the Dragons took control.
Match: Dragons v Rabbitohs
Round 15 -
Venue: WIN Stadium, Wollongong
First to cross was skipper Ben Hunt, who chipped over the top for Zac Lomax to regather before taking the return pass from his centre to score in the fifth minute.
Seven minutes later the home side were in again when winger Mikaele Ravalawa celebrated his return from a hamstring injury by finishing off superb lead-up work by young playmaker Talatau Amone and the score was 12-0.
Come the 15th minute and Jack de Belin had the WIN Stadium faithful in raptures when he powered through a Tom Burgess tackle to cross for his third try of the season and the Dragons were keeping pace with the clock.
Ravalawa had a double by the 19th minute when he took a flick pass from Lomax and turned Alex Johnston inside out to make it 20-0.
With Hunt's kicking game on song the Dragons dominated field position and the No.7 had a second try assist in the 24th minute when he launched a bomb and Moses Suli produced a fingertip catch to plunge over for his team's fifth try.
Cody Ramsey got in on the action three minutes later when he ran onto a Jack Bird pass and shrugged off Jaxson Paulo to grab his fifth try in six games at WIN Stadium.
The Dragons went down a man in the 38th minute when Amone was sent to the sin bin for holding Cody Walker back as he tried to support a Mark Nicholls break.
A spilled bomb by Ramsey in the 58th minute opened the door for Souths to finally get on the board when Damien Cook snuck over from dummy half to make it 32-6.
Some sloppy Dragons defence opened the door for Cameron Murray to cross under the sticks in the 62nd minute to cut the margin to 20 but an intercept by Hunt in the next set halted the Rabbitohs' momentum.
Although the Dragons were unable to find another try the damage had been well and truly done in the first half as five tries in 22 minutes put their arch-rivals to the sword.
- The Dragons' 32-point first half haul is the equal highest by any team in the opening half in 2022, matching Cronulla's 32-0 blitz against Manly in round seven at PointsBet Stadium.
- The last time the Dragons beat the Rabbitohs at WIN Stadium was round nine, 2005.
The Dragons had 63 per cent of possession in the opening half and completed 19 of 22 sets at 86 per cent.
- Dragons prop Blake Lawrie produced a barnstorming 28-minute stint to start the game, making 124 metres from 11 hit-ups. He finished the night with a game high 198 metres.'
- Mark Nicholls was a shining light in a beaten side with 148 metres from 15 runs.
- Cody Ramsey continues to make the No.1 jersey his own for the Dragons, breaking five tackles and running for 132 metres to go with his four-pointer.
NRL Press Conference: Dragons v Rabbitohs - Round 15, 2022
The Dragons are at home again in Round 16, hosting the Canberra Raiders at WIN Stadium. That is followed by back-to-back road trips to face the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium and the Roosters at Central Coast Stadium.
The Rabbitohs will be hoping to welcome back Latrell Mitchell for their clash with the Eels at Accor Stadium. The last time the sides met it was the Bunnies cruising to a 38-20 victory in round 12 last year.