It was a game suited to the prime time slot of 3am Tuesday morning, as South Sydney, stung after their defeat in North Queensland wanted to get back into the winner's circle. There was no better opponent than a Gold Coast side, who were on a six game losing streak and looking unlike the side that led the NRL competition in the opening months.
After the opening ten minutes, it appeared that the game would go to script, as South Sydney making more changes than an unhappy girlfriend in a shopping mall, started off with a point to prove. A bomb was launched high by Adam Reynolds and Nathan Merritt was allowed to swan about, regather the bomb, offload to the returning Luke Keary, who had finger-tip control to open the scoring.
Following the kick return, Souths would knock on through hooker Apisai Korisau. He was struggled against three defenders and threw an ill-advised offload that hit the deck. This error would be a notable theme running the entire 80 minutes, as neither team could keep a firm grip of the ball or their discipline.
There were 20 plus penalties blown by Ashley Klein and Gavin Reynolds in a contest that wasn't allowed to flow through errors or teams wanting to push the issue. Souths would extend the lead to the largest margin in the whole game, as an official warning following back-to-back penalties, gave Adam Reynolds the chance to make it 8-nil.
Gold Coast, as they have done through the entire season, fought and scrapped. Albert Kelly, on his return from injury brought instant impact after his introduction. The halfback sent an inside ball to David Mead, who was amongst everything tonight, to slice through the defense to bring it to four the difference at oranges.
They took that momentum into the second stanza, scoring within seven minutes of the restart. William Zillman, who was a livewire throughout the contest, evaded the first defender, stepped and leveled the scoreline. It was a position Gold Coast found themselves in their previous game against St George, before going down 19=18 due to a Gareth Widdop field goal.
Ill-discipline once again reared it's ugly two heads, if you will. Titans were pinged for multiple penalty offences in a short space, allowing Adam Reynolds to point to the sticks again. The halfback made it three goals from three and the lead, although slender, was restored by the overwhelming favourites.
In a month, where Costa Rica have knocked over more fancied teams, as often as a Paul Carter tackle Gold Coast found a way to finally snap a losing streak which had the credentials of coach, John Cartwright being questioned, to the point of a t-shirt being made for his sacking. Alex Johnston, fumbled a bomb into the hands of Brad Takairangi who shuttled the pass out to Kevin Gordon, the winger sneaking the ball inside the corner post.
Gold Coast finally got their lead, now they just had to defend it. South Sydney threw all their might through Reynolds, Johnston, Walker and Sutton at the Queensland side but weren't able to crack them. They defended stoutly and forced them to offload passes, that were promptly knocked on or in the final play's case, go over Nathan Merritt's head. The losing streak was over, Gold Coast were back in the winner's circle.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 10 Gold Coast Titans 14
Venue: ANZ Stadium
Halftime Score: South Sydney Rabbitohs 8 Gold Coast Titans 4
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - William Zillman
2 points - David Mead
1 point - Sam Burgess
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
Well for South Sydney, there are more changes than a woman's wardrobe. The major one is all FOUR Burgess brothers are playing together, George and Sam starting with Luke and Thomas on the bench. The centres are now Dylan Walker and Kirisome Auva'a with Lote Tuiqiri on the wing. Luke Keary makes his return pushing John Sutton to lock in what Michael McGuire wanted as his ideal line-up from round one in 2014. Kyle Turners moves from the backs to forward with Ben Lowe going to the bench.
GLD: In contrast, Gold Coast are a newly bachelored man who takes little pride in appearance. Matt Srama and Ben Ridge are OUT. Cody Nelson starts for Ridge with the bench now comprising White, Ioane, debutant Tom Kingston and the returning Albert Kelly.
Welcome to a fresh ANZ Stadium tonight. We have the final clash of a shortened round 17, as South Sydney take on Gold Coast. The home side are stung after their ambush up in North Queensland, losing to the Cowboys 20-18. They have made several changes finally allowing Macguire to have his favoured halves pairing, in Keary and Reynolds moving Sutton to lock.
For the Gold Coast side, it is just getting back into the winner's circle. They have had a week to stew on their 19-18 lose to St George Illawarra a few weeks ago but welcome back Albert Kelly from the bench, to prey on a tiring forward pack later in the game. There should be a mention for the debutant Tom Kingston, as well who is on the bench tonight. Can Daniel Mortimer guide his new side to a win in his second game? or will Keary/Reynolds pairing provide too much attacking prowess for the struggling Titans? Join us at 7:00pm AEST to find out.
The Star Wars imperial march sounds out through a vacant ANZ Stadium, as the Titans emerge in their white with navy and blue away strip. They are followed by the strains of Glory, Glory to earmark the entrance of the home side. South Sydney line-up on halfway..
1: KICK-OFF! Titans with first use.
7: SIX MORE for the Rabbitohs.. as they needed to intervene before it got to Walker. Followed by the opening PENALTY of the contest.
8: Seeing the success on the play earlier, Adam Reynolds went back to the play, like a fat kid for his second piece of cake. He was scolded by his mother (rugby league) as it was spilled.
9: VIDEO REFEREE: Nathan Merritt was allowed to wander in and recover the bomb.. checking the offside and pick-up.
9: TRY SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Scored by Luke Keary. Kick to come.
GREEN LIGHTS..TRY! No problems with anything, Keary had finger-tip control of the pick up and dived over.
11: UNFORCED ERROR SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Apisai Koroisau makes an unforced error.
Koroisau struggled through three defenders before the offload hit the deck.
14: PENALTY Titans - a strip that saw the ball rocket out puts the Titans just inside Souths half.
14: Followed by a second strip PENALTY, this one against Sam Burgess.
15: VIDEO REFEREE: Paul Carter was shot out of a cannon, with that run. Just checking if he got the ball down.. referee ruled NO TRY.
15: RED LIGHTS..NO TRY! Good run from Carter but he doesn't get his candy. Held up and play-the-ball.
16: Maurice Blair with an ill-timed kick on fourth tackle forced Kevin Gordon to push it straight into Dylan Walker's hands who was away. Blair made amends for his error though, chasing down the centre.
20: Kevin Gordon after Adam Reynolds forced a kick down the short side forced the Titans to work that way. Zillman did well with the first play but Gordon couldn't replicate it on second, getting taken into touch.
22: UNFORCED ERROR SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Nathan Merritt makes an unforced error.
Swift passing from the Rabbits got Tuiqiri in position to send Merritt across but the winger shoved the pass to a sliding Merritt who knocked on just before the goal-line.
23: PENALTY South Sydney. The home side now are running over the Titans pack.
25: Alex Johnston like the drunk who doesn't want to leave the party, allowed one too many bounces and was trapped in-goal from a rather toothless kick.
27: PENALTY Titans - Tuiqiri was offside from the previous touch from his own player. Titans forced an overlap there.. just couldn't put it through the hands.
28: PENALTY Souths - hand on the ball.
29: Back to back PENALTIES brought in the official warning for captain Zillman. Adam Reynolds points for the two points..
30: SUCCESSFUL PENALTY GOAL SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Penalty goal attempt by Adam Reynolds successful.
Reynolds who has now scored in all of his NRL starts equalling Jason Taylor's record. (69 out of 69) adds two more points to his tally.
32: Rabbitohs are forcing the issue here.. with passes. The Burgess boys almost got found out again.. Kyle Turner saving their blushes. Titans from the rebounded kick, earn a PENALTY.
33: PENALTY Titans - Adam Reynolds went on with the tackle after Takairangi got past Walker.
35: TRY GOLD COAST TITANS
Scored by David Mead. Kick to come.
The errors like slow reacting snake venom, came back to bite the Rabbitohs. Albert Kelly fresh on the field gave a good inside ball to David Mead who found the line.
38: The pea is truly out of the whistle here. PENALTY against the Rabbitohs for offside.
40: Albert Kelly sprung into life there.. beating one then spying the try-line before flicking it back inside, to a Rabbitoh.
39: PENALTY Rabbitohs - The 13th of the half! Souths have a final chance to attack here.
40: HALFTIME :: Rabbitohs lead 8-4 despite a massive scramble on the final play of the half, looking for a larger lead.
40: Here we go again, for another forty minutes. Titans will believe they are still in this game, Michael Macguire will want less errors from his forwards, as they will runaway with it if they can.
41: Adam Reynolds is on field and watching as Keary takes in the kick-off.
45: SIX MORE as the kick is charged down. Albert Kelly got to the ball first, got the penalty and kept himself inside the touchline.
45: Hooley Dooley! Luke Burgess came careening in with a clothesline, straight from the WWE. PENALTY and some shirt-fronting going on. Luke is predictably put ON REPORT.
46: Beau Falloon with a quick dart earned a PENALTY. Caught the Rabbitohs offside.
47: TRY GOLD COAST TITANS
Scored by William Zillman. Kick to come.
Titans got their third straight PENALTY and finally cracked the Rabbitohs. Zillman on an overlap, stepped inside, evaded one, stepped another and found the try-line to square things off.
48: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION GOLD COAST TITANS
Conversion attempt by Daniel Mortimer unsuccessful.
Mortimer gets his kick all wrong. Missed.
50: PENALTY South Sydney - meanwhile George Burgess heads up the tunnel.
50: Sam Burgess into the backfield! He just cannoned past a stunned defensive line, looking for Johnston who is stripped by Minichiello who pushed it back to Mortimer to recover.
51: Beau Falloon needs to be more careful at dummy-half. He throws it forward to Mortimer on first tackle.
52: UNFORCED ERROR SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Sam Burgess makes an unforced error.
Following his foray into the backfield, Sam Burgess tried to receive the crash ball to dive over. He was hammered though, losing it before he could gather it in fully. Well done Titans defense.
53: PENALTY Titans - lingering too long in the ruck.
54: UNFORCED ERROR GOLD COAST TITANS
Daniel Mortimer makes an unforced error.
Zillman poked his nose through the line again but threw the impossible ball for Mortimer. The halfback spilled it and South Sydney counter.
55: Carter is pinged for a high tackle on Luke Keary.
56: PENALTY.. two of them in fact. Titans lingering in the play-the-ball then marched for dissent. Reynolds opts for the goal again.
56: SUCCESSFUL PENALTY GOAL SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Penalty goal attempt by Adam Reynolds successful.
Reynolds puts them in front again with the boot.
56: UNFORCED ERROR SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Issac Luke makes an unforced error.
Isaac Luke has the ball knocked down. Here come the Titans again.
59: Luke Douglas goes close! He shrugged off Burgess of the Sam variety before he took on Johnston. The Fullback was up to task though, as he stripped it in-goal. Goal-line dropout.
62: Another set after a COMPLETED set from the Rabbitohs. Luke Keary fired a grubber right at a defender who played at it.
63: Luke Bailey was never back the ten. PENALTY and it's tapped.
64: The referee's whistle goes AGAIN. Sutton caught them offside.
65: Paul Carter is caught in the ruck.. it won't surprise you, that it is a PENALTY.
65: Paul Carter is caught in the ruck.. it won't surprise you, that it is a PENALTY.
65: VIDEO REFEREE: John Sutton might be across, checking it. Referee called NO TRY.
65: RED LIGHTS..NO TRY! Sutton held up. It was a lovely ball from Keary.
67: VIDEO REFEREE: Kevin Gordon goes in the corner.. checking if someone is impeded.
67: TRY GOLD COAST TITANS
Scored by Kevin Gordon. Kick to come.
GREEN LIGHTS..TRY! No one was impeded, so it is given. Alex Johnston couldn't take the bomb, as Brad Takairangi tried to get the line, passed to Gordon who dived for the corner.
68: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION GOLD COAST TITANS
Conversion attempt by Kevin Gordon successful.
Gordon after going over, steps up for the conversion. He snuck it inside the left post.
73: UNFORCED ERROR SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Alex Johnston makes an unforced error.
Johnston couldn't handle the pass back inside after Merritt went down the left.
75: Adam Reynolds defied his injury to chip, regather and almost put Walker away. Changeover.
76: SIX MORE.. Kelly dribbled it through and off a Rabbitoh to regather.
77: They went for the power play on last. Luke Douglas who went close earlier, took the inside ball but was held up. Changeover.
78: UNFORCED ERROR SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Dylan Walker makes an unforced error.
Reynolds with an inventive kick back into the pack, saw Walker knock it on. He would have been punished for a push on Bailey anyway.
79: Souths have one more chance. Mortimer tried to drive a ball over the sideline. It hit Reynolds but the Souths half wasn't deemed to play at it.
80: Souths almost opened the Titans up there. Walker got in behind off the inside ball. Next play, they tried to find favourite son, Nathan Merritt who could only watch the ball go over his head and over the sideline.Like