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Match Summary Cronulla Sharks have held on to defeat the South Sydney Rabbitohs 12-10 at ANZ Stadium, handing the bunnies their fifth consecutive loss to start the season.
In a dour game Souths had plenty of chances to get the win by earning several repeat sets on the back of a much improved kicking game, however their attacking game was not up to the task in a game where they dominated possession and field position.
Souths had most of the early ball but the first try went to Cronulla when Greg Bird scored a soft try in the 13th minute. The Souths defensive line was not moving up and this allowed Cronulla easy passage up the middle for most of the game.
Souths earned several repeat sets but they lacked quality finishing with the ball in hand. De Gois made a huge run down the middle in the 30th minute and Souths were penalised for offside with the Sharks surprisingly kicking for goal to lead 8-0.
Two minutes later Cronulla were on the attack in the 20 and Covell scored off a nice grubber behind the line. Nathan Merritt on the wing was attracting plenty of interest from the Sharks kickers but he had a great evening under the high ball defusing several dangerous situations.
The final 5 minutes of the first half saw Souths with all the ball and they finally converted it to points right on halftime when John Sutton stepped inside the defence to score in a handy position for a 12-6 halftime scoreline.
The second half was hardly exciting, Souths scored the only try in the 57th minute when Sutton offloaded to Smith who put Champion over in the corner.
In reality Souths should have scored at least three tries with the opportunities they had in the second half but Cronulla held on and were able to get out of the danger zone way too easily for a team so dominated possesion wise.
The second half followed the same pattern time and again with Cronulla handing Souths opportunities in addition to the ones earned with Souths either looking clueless with the ball or dropping it from pushed passes.
In an interesting sideline (literally) Jason Taylor came down to the field while the conversion was being attempted and called his entire team over for a team huddle, apparently this may have been against NRL rules!
Souths can take the positive in that their kicking game improved 100% over anything they have done opreviously this year while
Cronulla take the two points to join the Broncos, Roosters and Titans at the top of the table.
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Welcome to ANZ. Souths are seeking their first win of the season tonight against the Cronulla Sharks.
Brett Seymour comes in at 5/8 for the Sharks, Bird goes to lock. Selmes will start and Dustin Cooper comes in to the squad for Lance Thompson. Souths lose Hegarty and young winger Sam Huihahau comes into the team.
1 min: Bird loses the ball Souths on the attack inside the 20.
3 min: Sutton kicks in behind the line and they get a repeat set.
6 min: Manuokafoa makes a nice bust to set up good field position but Champion's kick goes into touch.
8 min: Seymour bombs, noone wants it but the Sharks are penalised for offside on the Souths 30.
9 min: Kearney fluffs a Smith grubber and Souths get a scrum close to the Sharks line.
11 min: Souths on the attack but an intercept saves the Sharks.
13 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks On the back of a penalty Cronulla cross with a soft try to Greg Bird. Souths fail their first goal line defence test. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell successful. Cronulla Sharks 6-0
17 min: Cronulla making easy metres. Merritt takes a good bomb to save the bunnies from further assault.
19 min: Merritt defuses a good kick by Seymour but the Sharks have forced a dropout.
21 min: Souths showing more enterprise with the ball but Smith's bomb is defused.
24 min: Ndaira makes a bust from dummy half but doesn't get a last tackle kick away conceding field position, meanwhile the Sharks continue to march upfield with relative ease.
26 min: Pin-point kick by Sutton earns the bunnies a repeat set from a dropout.
28 min: De Gois makes a huge bust down the middle and offloads to Kearney who is well tackled by Falloon, on the ensuing play Cronulla get a penalty for offside. Covell to kick for goal.
30 min: PENALTY GOAL Cronulla Sharks Cronulla Sharks 8-0
32 min: Video ref for a Cronulla try, looks a certainty.
32 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Souths not moving up in defence and the Sharks get a try from a Seymour kick in behind for Covell to score in the corner. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell unsuccessful. Cronulla Sharks 12-0
37 min: Attacking kick by Smith comes off for Talanoa but he is tackled on the last 20 out.
38 min: A penalty to Souths inside the 20 and they gain a repeat set from a kick, another dropout to come from Cronulla.
40 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs An absolute glut of possession in the last few minutes of the first half and Souths convert with Sutton stepping through to score. Conversion attempt by Nathan Merritt successful. Cronulla Sharks 12-6
A flattering scoreline for Souths at halftime but a much improved kicking game has seen them earning repeat sets which is something they have been failing to do well so far this season. Cronulla are working out of trouble very easily. Possession is very even and the team who comes out with the better attitude should win this one.
The second half is under way.
41 min: Asotasi makes a great hit up then the bunnies throw a forward pass on the following play.
43 min: Sharks earn a dropout from a Kimmorley grubber.
43 min: From the dropout Souths almost regain but do get a penalty after the Sharks are offside.
44 min: Smith kicks poorly on the third tackle to result in a soft turnover.
45 min: Kimmorley drops it in his own half scrum to Souths.
46 min: Asotasi makes a rare error with Souths on the attack.
52 min: No 20 metre zone attack happening at the moment.
53 min: Kimmorley kick easily defused, both teams making a meal of the kicking at the moment.
54 min: Penalty Souths 25 out, they go on the attack.
55 min: And they bomb it with an impossible pass.
57 min: Another penalty to Souths and they have it on the Sharks 20.
57 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs A good pass out the back from Sutton to Smith who puts Champion in for the try out wide on the back of a lot of possession. Jason Taylor comes to the sideline to instruct his troops in a team huddle! Conversion attempt by Nathan Merritt unsuccessful. Cronulla Sharks 12-10
63 min: Talanoa fumbles in the play the ball with Souths on the attack.
65 min: Merritt again defuses a nice Seymour kick.
67 min: Another penalty to Souths coming out of trouble. poor discipline by Cronulla tonight.
68 min: Souths earn another dropout after a scrambling kick from Kidwell into the in-goal.
70 min: Plenty of ball in the right area but Souths looking clueless.
72 min: Cronulla go on the attack but Souths hold them out, Bird compounds a bad kick by backchatting to concede another penalty.
73 min: The bunnies make it upfield and earn a dropout after tackling Kearney in-goal.
75 min: Cronulla survive another set in their 20 and will restart from the 20.
77 min: Cronulla charge upfield after Kearney takes a Smith bomb. Simmons almost scores.
78 min: Widders kicks ahead and they tackle Kearney into touch a few metres out. Great chance for Souths to snatch the game.
79 min: Poor execution and Kidwell drops the ball 3 metres out.
80 min: Souths get one last play on the Cronulla 40 and cannot take advantage, Cronulla hold on to win the game.