Dragons draw at the death

A Brett Morris try in the dying seconds of the game had resulted in the first drawn Charity Shield since 2002, with both teams putting 26 points on the board in front of 27,221 fans at ANZ Stadium tonight.

Despite being little more than a glorified trial match, the Charity Shield has a rich and thorough history, and both teams never fail to put on a good show.

The Dragons started the stronger of the two teams, with Jason Nightingale claiming first points in the 8th minute only to be denied after video scrutiny showed he'd stepped into touch.

Two minutes later and the game had it's first score, through South Sydney winger Fetuli Talanoa, who was the beneficiary of a fantastic offload under pressure by Colin Best.

Nightingale wasn't to be denied a second time, finding himself on the end of a simple three on two overlap and streaking away for the try in the 18th minute.

As expected with trial matches, match fitness and concentration was an issue for the players, with the penalties and lost balls coming thick and fast.

Following one of said lost balls by Matt Prior in the 28th, Souths worked their way from halfway up to the Dragons line, before Chris Sandow kicked to the corner and Talanoa scores his second, and easily most impressive, try of the night when he planted the ball down despite half his body being over the dead ball line.

Their lead was short lived, however, as following the restart Garret Crossman was penalised for not playing the ball correctly. The Dragons got the ball back and almost immediately Jamie Soward found an unmarked Nightingale on the outside.

Just three minutes later, following yet another lost ball, the Dragons were in the lead for the first time tonight after Soward, in almost a mirror image of the previous try, found young Kyle Stanley, who in turn found an unmarked Morris on the outside who raced away for the try to take the Dragons to halftime leading 16 points to 12.

Following the break, Souths started the stronger of the two teams, with Nathan Merritt busting them wide open up the middle in the 44th, before finding Ben Lowe in support for the try.

Six minutes later, and Talanoa had his hat trick, chasing through a grubber from John Sutton to plant the ball and give the Rabbitohs a converted try lead.

Once again, however, the Rabbitohs were unable to maintain possession following the restart, and once again the Dragons capitalise through Nick Emmett crashing over from short range.

Merritt looked to have put the game beyond doubt in the 67th when he followed through a chip from Sandow, but Morris had the final say with the final play.

Match Details
South Sydney Rabbitohs 26 drew with St George Illawarra Dragons 26
Charity Shield - Saturday February 27th, 2010 08:00pm Venue: ANZ Stadium Referee: Ashley Klein, Brett Suttor Touch Judges: Steve Carrall, Luke Phillips, Henry Perenara, Luke Phillips Video Referee: Sean Hampstead Crowd: 27221 Halftime: South Sydney Rabbitohs 12 St George Illawarra Dragons 16

South Sydney Rabbitohs (26) Tries: Nathan Merritt, Fetuli Talanoa (3), Ben Lowe Conversions: Chris Sandow (3/5)

St George Illawarra Dragons (26) Tries: Brett Morris (2), Jason Nightingale (2), Nick Emmett Conversions: Jamie Soward (3/5)

LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Fetuli Talanoa (xx) 2 Points: Brett Morris (xx) 1 Point: Chris Sandow (xx)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary 80 min: Morris fights his way over in the corner to tie the game up and give the Dragons an opportunity to steal the win. Soward however misses the conversion from the sideline and the game ends in a draw. 26 all

67 min: Sandow puts a lovely chip in to the in-goal for Merritt to follow through and give the Rabbitohs the lead once again. South Sydney Rabbitohs 26-22

61 min: Strong defence from Jamie Simpson forces the ball loose on the first tackle.

61 min: Capewell is unable to take a high ball from Soward and the Dragons have the resulting head and feed of the scrum on Souths 20. 55 min: Souths extended the offer, and the Dragons happily accept with Nick Emmett crashing over from close range. St George Illawarra Dragons 22-16

53 min: Once again, immediately following a try the Rabbitohs give the ball away and the Dragons have an excellent opportunity to level the game up.

50 min: Sutton dribbles the ball into the ingoal, and Talanoa is on hand to complete his hat-trick. 16 all

49 min: A lovely interchange of passing in the middle of the field with Fien passing to Hornby who finds Boyd inside who then steps around a couple before passing to McPherson for Souths.

44 min: Merritt busts them wide open up the middle, before finding big Ben Lowe in support for the try. South Sydney Rabbitohs 18-16

43 min: An awful pass from Fien is impossible for Soward to reel in, with the ball falling neatly into the hands of Sandow who goes immediately on the counterattack.

40 min: Hornby kicks off and the second half is underway!

40 min: Half time here at ANZ Stadium where the St George Illawarra Dragons lead the South Sydney Rabbitohs 16 points to 12, not 65521-12 as our website currently reads due to a minor technical issue...sorry to all Dragons fans out there currently jumping for joy.

39 min: Merritt collects a high ball safely in the in-goal for a tap at the 20, as we see young Kyle Stanley in the background struggling with what looks to be an ankle injury.

36 min: In a mirror image of their previous try, following a Souths error the Dragons have sent the ball out wide, this time to the left wing where Brett Morris crosses to put the Dragons in front for the first time tonight. St George Illawarra Dragons 16-12

35 min: Wesser is unable to handle an inside ball from Sutton and gives the Dragons another set in good field position.

32 min: Following the penalty, Soward sends a long ball out to an unmarked Nightingale who collects his second for the night. Sowards sideline conversion just as good as Sandow's just moments before. 12 all

31 min: Souths commit the cardinal sin by giving away a penalty on the set following the try after Crossman plays the ball not facing the Dragons tryline.

29 min: Sandow kicks the ball to the corner, and Talanoa somehow manages to plant it cleanly on the ground from a standing position, despite half his body being over the dead ball line. Sandow's conversion from the sideline is a beauty. South Sydney Rabbitohs 12-6

29 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Rabbitohs Try... Talanoa is claiming an absolute miracle of a try, as long as he hasn't stepped into touch.

28 min: Now Matt Prior has knocked the ball on, giving Souths another set of six on halfway.

27 min: Burgess tries to play his attacking hand in passing before the line, but the ball floats forward out of his hands.

26 min: Great composure shown by Merritt as he watches and wills the ball over the dead in-goal line moments before Boyd arrives to claim a try.

22 min: Pettybourne puts a massive hit on Hunt, but then goes on with it a bit too much and gives away another penalty, this one putting the Dragons deep into Souths territory.

21 min: Sutton steps his way up the middle of the field, giving his side great field position for the last tackle, but Sandow takes the poor option, kicking shortside directly into the open arms of Soward, then gives away the penalty that gets Saints away from their line.

18 min: Colin Best is ruled to have simply gone for the decoy runner, opening up space on the outside for Boyd to send Nightingale streaking away for the Dragons opening try. 6 all

18 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Dragons Try... Nightingale has crossed over, with the video ref checking for a possible obstruction.

16 min: Confusion rife amongst the Souths squad after Champion seemingly loses the ball, however is deemed to have had it stolen and is therefore rewarded with a repeat set. Sutton however fails to hear the six again call and kicks on the first.

15 min: Sandow sends the ball up high and Boyd does a marvelous job under very heavy pressure from Burgess.

12 min: Another penalty to Souths after Creagh is caught up around the neck of Asotasi.

10 min: Souths score from an assuming attacking line where no-one really seemed to know what to do. From dummy half, the ball went out to Sandow, who passed onto a flat-footed Asotasi, who sent the ball out wide to a flat-footed Best, who managed to unload to Talanoa under heavy pressure. South Sydney Rabbitohs 6-0

9 min: Souths get their first penalty of the game, and are now in good attacking field position, 20 out from the Dragons line.

8 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Dragons Try... Brett Morris is sent over in the corner, but steps into touch and as a result is denied first points of the game.

7 min: Sandow has to reach in front for a poor pass and as a result turns the ball over, with the Dragons immediately on the counter attack.

6 min: The Dragons make a long break down the right side through Fien, who passes early to Nightingale, who then passes back to Fien before being collected from behind by Asotasi, forcing the ball loose.

5 min: Soward sends the ball high but Talanoa is safe as houses at the back.

3 min: Fien chips the ball into the in-goal where it is collected by Merritt who fakes to go left before going for a quick dart down the sideline to get his team out of trouble.

2 min: Penalty against Isaac Luke for working the face. Dragons have the ball on their 45.

Referee Klein blows time on and the Charity Shield is underway! Dragons to have first use of the ball.

Good evening and welcome to LeagueUnlimited.com's live coverage of the annual Charity Shield between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the St George Illawarra Dragons. With less than two weeks until season 2010 officially kicks off, neither team will want to leave anything behind in this match. Stay tuned, kickoff is just moments away!

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