A dominant second half which saw 30 unanswered points scored and zero conceded has seen the South Sydney Rabbitohs prevail in their first meeting with the Dolphins on Thursday night at Suncorp Stadium.
South Sydney recorded back-to-back wins for the first time in 2023 with a 36-14 victory over, which saw Campbell Graham continue his rich vein of form with two tries and Jai Arrow make a welcomed return from the sidelines in a strong performance through the middle.
Facing off against former Rabbitohs in Wayne Bennett (Head Coach), Mark Nicholls and Kodi Nikorima, the Red and Green found themselves trailing 14-6 heading into half-time, before a superb second stanza saw them pile on 30 points in a blistering second stanza.
The Rabbitohs found themselves trailing early on, with an error resulting in Euan Aitken scoring just two minutes in, with the successful conversion giving the Dolphins a 6-nil lead.
Ill discipline continued to cruel the Red and Green as a high tackle on the following set handing their opponents more territory, before Cameron Murray and Keaon Koloamatangi denied Jeremy Marshall-King at the line.
The home side continued to pressure the South Sydney defence, with a wayward bounce giving the Dolphins possession 20 metres from the Rabbitohs line before Cody Walker recovered a threatening grubber.
A high kick of their own saw the Rabbitohs in prime position to attack after a back-and-forth contest, and although Latrell Mitchell found himself held up over the line, the fullback had his hand in sending Campbell Graham over for his first try of the match with a silky short ball.
A penalty for a late tackle on a kick gave the Dolphins another chance to put on points, doing so through a penalty goal with just over ten minutes remaining in the first half for an 8-6 lead.
Damien Cook picked up the scraps from a linebreak to save a certain try, but after the Dolphins took possession from a scrum 20 metres from the line, Marshall-King dived over from dummy half for the third try of the night.
Latrell Mitchell looked to spark the Red and Green before the break, and with an escort penalty handing over another chance to change the scoreboard before the break, with the Rabbitohs trailing 14-6.
Looking to wrestle back momentum, strong runs from Davvy Moale and Jai Arrow saw the Rabbitohs downfield, and Graham was over for his second to open the second half, with the flying Scotsman leaping to catch a Lachlan Ilias bomb and bring the deficit down to just two points.
The left side was on song soon after with Isaiah Tass and Johnston threatening, before a last-gasp offload was swooped on by Cody Walker, with Mitchell giving his side the lead for the first time of the night with the successful conversion.
Continuing their charge through the middle third, Thomas Burgess was felled just millimetres from the line, and it was only the sideline that denied Johnston after Walker sent him through with a well-timed cut-out.
That mattered little, however, as a penalty saw the Rabbitohs go up by a converted try with a quarter of the match remaining through the boot of Mitchell, before the Rabbitohs rampaged.
A tackle off the ball on Milne from Kenny Bromwich saw the Dolphins back rower sent to the sin bin, and the difference in numbers allowed Isaiah Tass to slice through in the corner just minutes later to extend the lead to 26-14.
An audacious short kick-off saw the ball sail out on the full, giving the Red and Green another opportunity to pressure the scoreboard, and this time it was Mitchell brushing off defenders to score and bring the Red and Green past three converted tries.
Ill discipline continued to cruel the hosts as the Rabbitohs put the foot down, and Johnston got his try after Walker wielded his magic with a soaring cut-out pass, which was enough to secure a dominant 36-14 victory.
The Rabbitohs faced off NRL newcomers the Dolphins for the very first time, who had former Rabbitohs Wayne Bennett, Mark Nicholls and Kodi Nikorima.
The Rabbitohs recorded their seventh win from their last ten matches at Suncorp Stadium, while returning winger Alex Johnston notched his 13th try from 15 games at the venue.
Forward Jai Arrow made his first appearance since Round 1, coming from the interchange bench in a strong performance.
Euan Aitken scored the first try of the night two minutes in, following an error from a high kick that saw the centre score in the corner on the following play.
Latrell Mitchell was held up over the line with four defenders on him, but soon after a short ball from the fullback saw Campbell Graham over in the 23rd minute.
The Dolphins took back the lead with just over ten minutes remaining in the first half through a penalty goal following a late tackle on a kicker.
With just over five minutes remaining in the first half, the Dolphins struck again through Jeremy Marshall-King following a linebreak to give the hosts a 14-6 lead at the break.
Graham scored his second in the 46th minute thanks to a Lachlan Ilias bomb, with the difference at two points heading into the final half-hour.
The Rabbitohs gained the lead just minutes later through Cody Walker, who swooped on a ricocheting offload to give his side an 18-14 advantage.
A penalty goal through Mitchell saw the Rabbitohs up by a converted try with a quarter of the match remaining.
Kenny Bromwich was sent to the sin bin in the 61st minute for a tackle off the ball on Taane Milne, with the advantage of numbers allowing Isaiah Tass to slice through for a try of his own, giving the Rabbitohs a 26-14 lead.
Latrell Mitchell was over next after crossing on the left, extending the lead to three converted tries with fourteen minutes remaining.
Johnston found himself on the board next courtesy of a magical Cody Walker cut-out, with the scores blowing out as the left side continued to hum.
Play of the Game
Down by eight points heading into the second half, the Red and Green needed to get on the board first in order to wrestle back the lead, and it was Lachlan Ilias and Campbell Graham combining to put the Rabbitohs back in the contest.
Following strong runs from Davvy Moale and Jai Arrow, the Rabbitohs found themselves downfield and in prime attacking position. With kicks proving fruitful throughout the match, Ilias sent the Steeden into the heavens on the right.
After scoring the first try of the match for the Cardinal and Myrtle, Campbell Graham leapt high to take the ball and plant it down, reminding everyone why he’s known as ‘The Flying Scotsman’.
It was an important try in the context of the match, with Graham literally going above and beyond to put his side back in the context and give them the momentum to go on with the job in the second half.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs return to Accor Stadium on Thursday night in the NRL's ANZAC Round to face off against modern-day rivals the Penrith Panthers, and will be looking to return serve following the close contest in Round 2.