The South Sydney Rabbitohs have reclaimed the Charity Shield following a 42-24 victory over rivals the St George Illawarra Dragons in a clinical showing at Glen Willow Oval, Mudgee.

In celebrating the 40th edition of the annual Charity Shield clash, the Red and Green claimed the Club's 18th title with a seven-try performance, unfazed as temperatures soared above 36 degrees in the mid-west.

With a near full-strength side, the Rabbitohs ran out to a 26-nil half-time lead to set up the victory, with Damien Cook setting up two tries, Cody Walker scoring two and Cameron Murray breaking the line twice as the spine clicked into top gear.

Following a strong opening set, it was the men in the middle who provided the first points of the match, with a scheming run from Cook putting Murray through the line, who provided Thomas Burgess with his first try of the year.

Campbell Graham soared to diffuse the Dragons' first raid of the day, and the roll-on continued as the potent left side saw Walker score his fifth Charity Shield try in his last six appearances, thanks to some clever work from Isaiah Tass and Alex Johnston.
Cody Walker crosses for his first of the day

The Rabbitohs' defence denied the Dragons from scoring as pressure forced a forward pass, before Johnston's nous shut down an attacking raid to force the ball dead, before driving his opposite Mikaele Ravalawa into touch to save a try.

Walker's boot troubled the Dragons' back three to force an error, and it was Cook who provided the side's third try of the match, dragging in defenders to put Latrell Mitchell through untouched from a scrum.

It took just three minutes for the Red and Green to strike again, with Murray finding his way through the line thanks to clever play from Lachlan Ilias as Jai Arrow touched down to extend the scores.

An impressive defensive effort in the final five minutes of the first half saw the Rabbitohs ride into the break with a clean sheet as a penalty extended the lead to 26-nil.

The momentum continued into the second stanza, with Cook sending hulking youngster Davvy Moale over next to the posts in the 45th minute, with Mitchell's conversion equalling the biggest winning margin in Charity Shield history.

St George Illawarra finally breached the Rabbitohs' defensive fortitude with Moses Mbye and Jayden Sullivan crossing, with both sides guilty of making errors as fatigue set in heading into the final quarter of the match.

Just as the Dragons looked to post their third try, a counter-attack from Mitchell saw the Cardinal and Myrtle back in striking distance, and it was Walker hot-stepping to score his second of the afternoon.

The Red V scored once more, with Jason Demetriou opting to rest the big guns for the final fourteen minutes as the boot of Blake Taaffe provided Jacob Gagai with a well-earned try.

Despite their opponents crossing late, it was the Rabbitohs who took home the Charity Shield after an impressive 42-24 victory.
Jai Arrow Try

Match Snapshot
The Charity Shield 2023 Winners

Play of the Game

After a strong start to the match with some clinical play on both sides of the ball, Damien Cook and Cameron Murray blew the Dragons apart up the middle to set up the first try of the match.

Scheming from dummy half, Cook raced out to put the skipper through a yawning gap, and on his outside was a steamrolling Thomas Burgess, who galloped 20 metres downfield to score.

Not only was it an entertaining piece of play, but it also set the tone for the rest of the match as the red-hot Rabbitohs ran in a further six tries.
Cameron Murray makes a linebreak

What’s Next?

With the Pre-season Challenge over, the South Sydney Rabbitohs will direct their attention to Round 1 of the 2023 NRL Premiership, kicking off with a Saturday night blockbuster on March 4 against the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at Shark Park.

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