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Saints outmuscle spirited Rabbits
Fulltime score: Round 15 South Sydney Rabbitohs 10 v St George-Illawarra Dragons 28
Match summary: The Dragons have overcome Souths in an encounter that really should have seen the Bunnies come a lot closer. The game was a low-scoring one for a majority of the time, Saints only leading 8-6 at the halftime break, before a late second-half breakaway gave them the 18-point win, 28-10.
Not surprisingly, the clash was extremely physical early, and as such it took almost 25 minutes for any points to be scored. The Dragons got in first through Blues centre Matt Cooper. Goalkicking woes plagued them throughout the first half as both Naiqama and Gorrell missed attempts that should have seen the Dragons up by 6 at the break.
The Dragons led 8-0 on the stroke of halftime before a mini-resurgence from South Sydney saw the gap reduced to two. Hopes were high for the Rabbitohs, even as a try to Payne put the Saints in front just after the break. Souths hit back with 18 minutes to go, reducing the margin to 12-10, but following that, it was all the Dragons.
Some poor defence ended up costing South Sydney three late tries, including a Colin Best double. They simply lacked the juice to compete for the full eighty minutes, something they did have last week when they flogged Manly. Unfortunately for South Sydney their slim finals hopes looked dashed, while St George-Illawarra continue their mid-season surge into the eight. Standouts for Saints included Dean Young, Michael Ennis and Ben Hornby, while Roy Bell, Mick Moran and John Sutton performed well for Souths.
Scorers: STH SYDNEY RABBITOHS 10 Tries: B Watts, M Moran Goals: R Bell 1/2 ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 28 Tries: C Best 2, M Cooper, M Ennis, C Payne, W Naiqama Goals: W Naiqama 0/1, A Gorrell 2/4, M Ennis 0/1
Live commentary: The SCG is electric this afternoon as the Dragons prepare to take on the Bunnies in a clash steeped with tradition. Program changes - - Saints have Torrens out, Gasnier in (#20). Poore will start, Bailey now OUT. Michael Henderson (#18) onto the bench. Souths have Yileen Gordon missing -replacing him is Roy Bell.
0 min: KICKOFF. The Dragons kick the ball off and the game is underway with a South Sydney set of six.
2 min: NEWS- Good first sets from both, Souths working the ball deep into St George's half. Dragons managed to run the ball to 30 out from Souths line before being bundled into touch. Souths then receive a penalty. Souths on the attack now close to the line. Souths 0 St Geo-Illa 0
8 min: NEWS- Dragons dominating thus far but Souths have shown flashes of brilliance as the Dragons defence seems flimsy down the centre. Dragons having lots of luck down the Souths wing and almost put a try on in the 6th min. Souths 0 St Geo-Illa 0
11 min: NO TRY- Dragons Forward pass thrown as Naiqama appears to score. Dubious call - touch judge notified referee Simpkins immediately of his decision. Score remains 0-all.
13 min: NEWS- Same story, opposite end - Souths denied a possible tryscoring opportunity as a forward pass is thrown. Dragons now will fight up out of their own half.
22 min: NEWS- Souths now have a chance at scoring as both teams grit it out. Dragons to take a drop-out as the Bunnies mount some pressure. Souths 0 St Geo-Illa 0
23 min: NEWS- Score is still 0-all, Souths fumble on the 3rd tackle and Saints now bring the ball back. Very physical game so far.
25 min: TRY- Dragons A controversial try awarded to Cooper after some lead-up work by Young. The ball was knocked-on but Simpkins failed to check upstairs. Naiqama misses. Souths 0 St Geo-Illa 4
34 min: TRY- Dragons A beautiful short kick from Hornby went over Moran's head and ended up with Ennis who slammed it down. Dragons seemingly pulling away from what has been a largely close game. Gorrell kicks from close to in front, but misses, it hits the posts. Souths 0 St Geo-Illa 8
39 min: TRY- Rabbitohs Watts scores in the corner as Souths launch a late first-half fightback. Bell lands the conversion superbly Souths 6 St Geo-Illa 8.
HALFTIME. Dragons lead Rabbitohs 8-6 at the break. The score paints a pretty accurate picture of the game so far, Dragons on top as South Sydney have challenged at every corner.
40 min: NEWS- Second half underway, Saints to have first play for this stanza.
42 min: NEWS- Saints having two very good opportunities early but both blown. Souths getting out of jail now. Souths 6 St Geo-Illa 8
44 min: TRY- Dragons On the return set they make another break and finally Payne crosses for the Saints. Polglase injured for Souths, doesn't look good for the young bloke. Gorrell misses another for St George-Illawarra as their goalkicking woes continue. Souths 6 St Geo-Illa 12.
45 min: INJURY NEWS- Polglase appears to be just concussed. Reports to confirm this soon.
53 min: NEWS- Dragons really putting some pressure on after Souths were denied a try not long ago. Saints right on the line now. Souths 6 St Geo-Illa 12
63 min: TRY- Rabbitohs Moran crosses and Bell fails to convert. Tight finish coming up. Souths 10 St Geo-Illa 12
69 min: TRY- Dragons Wes Naiqama sticks Saints 6 points clear with a kick to come after the video ref awards a try to the Red & Whites. Gorrell converts, finally. Souths 10 St Geo-Illa 18
74 min: TRY- Dragons Best is over and Souths are put to sleep. Conversion successful from Gorrell. From the kickoff on the next play Greenshields lets the ball go out. Souths ball on the attack. Souths 10 St Geo-Illa 24
79 min: TRY- Dragons Best gets the double, Ennis doesn't convert. Souths 10 Dragons 28.
FULLTIME. St George-Illawarra 28 South Sydney 10. Saints have rolled away with what became an easy win in the end. Disappointment for Souths after showing a lot of promise.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - D Young (Dragons) 2 - R Bell (Rabbitohs) 1 - B Hornby (Dragons) -----------------------------------------