Rabbitohs outgrind gallant Sharks

THE South Sydney Rabbitohs have moved into third spot on the NRL ladder after a hard-fought, heartstopping 14-12 victory at ANZ Stadium tonight.

After having two second-half tries disallowed the Rabbitohs suffered some nervous moments inside the final minute as the Sharks looked for an unlikely victory.

In front of 14,128 fans the home side wasted no time getting on the scoreboard through centre Andrew Everingham. In their first foray into Cronulla territory, halfback Adam Reynolds laid on the try with a perfectly weighted chip kick to the corner. Centre Dylan Farrell extended the lead to double figures after 14 minutes and again the try was supplied by Reynolds’ boot. With Michael Gordon up in the line, Reynolds took the ball to the line before putting in a deft kick for his outside men and Farrell won the race.

The Sharks were being outmuscled in the middle of the field and it required an opportunists try from fullback Michael Gordon to get them back in the game. With his side throwing the ball around on the last tackle after five-eighth Todd Carney took on the line, Chris Heighington found himself with the ball. The former Tiger threw what appeared a wayward pass which was scooped up by the fullback who sliced through some disappointing South Sydney goal-line defence.

The final 20 minutes of the half was punctuated with errors by both teams which saw them both go to the sheds with completion rates of less than 50%. On the stroke of halftime Reynolds stepped up to pilot a penalty goal between the posts from out wide and the Rabbitohs went to the break with a handy eight-point lead.

The shoulder charge debate reared its ugly head in the 47th minute when Nathan Merritt saved a certain try with what looked like a great hit but was ruled to be a shoulder charge by the officials. Ten minutes later the Rabbitohs looked to extend their lead through Merritt but Sharks five-eighth Carney was ruled to have been obstructed.

Beau Ryan set up a thrilling finish in an otherwise scrappy encounter when he took full advantage of another South Sydney error, racing 90m after scooping up a loose ball. The former Tiger won the race to the tryline despite almost being run down by Rabbitohs halfback Reynolds. With just 80 seconds left on the clock Reynolds appeared to have put the result beyond doubt but Isaac Luke was penalised after taking Anthony Tupou out at marker.

It set up a thrilling finale but the red and green defence held firm and enabled them to hang on and register an important two-point win.