Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
South Sydney have won a drama charged and sometimes spiteful match 36-12 over an extremely disappointing Cronulla side at Aussie Stadium this evening.
The lowlight of the match was the send off of Sharks five eighth Greg Bird for a deliberate knee to the face of South?s winger Shane Marteene. Referee Tony Archer was left with no option other than to march Bird who will face a lengthy suspension once he fronts the NRL judiciary next week.
The highlight was South?s performance and the hat trick to Luke Macdougall, which was well deserved and hard earned. South?s showed a resolve not seen in the myrtle and green for many years and the Rabbitoh?s senior players all lifted the side at crucial times to ensure the Bunnies always remained in control.
Bryan Fletcher, Adam Macdougall and Willie Peters all had outstanding games for South's while some of the younger players including Glen Hall, Mark Minichello and Luke Macdougall all made significant contributions to South?s victory and make no mistake, the Rabbitoh?s are not a team to be taken lightly this year as the look to find a new beneficiary for the wooden spoon and on form, their opponents from tonight?s match would be deserving of such an award.
Cronulla on the other hand have a lot of soul searching to do and tonight?s performance ranks up there with their disgraceful effort against the Eels last year and the Sharks are by far the most undisciplined side in the NRL. Stuart Raper must be wondering how he can turn this rabble around and make them competitive on a weekly basis, let alone think about making the top eight.
RABBITOHS 36 Tries: L Macdougall 3, Smith, Kearney, Minichiello, Marteene. Goals: Smith 2/4, Peters 2/3. defeated SHARKS 12 Tries: Bailey, Saleh. Goals: Kimmorley 2/2.
Aussie Stadium Referee: Tony Archer Video Referee: Stephen Clark Touch Judges: Paul Kalina, Peter Sciberras
By the clock: 1st min: Kickoff! We are underway in round four.
10th min: Video ref rules no try to Souths who are playing the percentage game very well in the early stages.
17th min: TRY - Sharks. Phil Bailey scores untouched and improves the position to under the black dot. Conversion successful. Sharks 6-0.
21st min: TRY - Souths. Justin Smith barges over to score under the posts in his first appearance of the year. Conversion successful. 6 all.
31st min: TRY - Souths. Brett Kearney runs the length of the field to score after scooping up a rebounded kick off Brett Kimmorley. Conversion successful. Souths 12-6.
35th min: TRY - Sharks. Chris Beattie comes up with a big hit on Mark Minichello and knocks the ball free. The Sharks pick up the loose ball, spread it wide and send Hassan Saleh over in the corner. Conversion successful. 12 all.
40th min: TRY - Souths. Mark Minichiello lunges out to just get the ball on the line with some downward pressure right on the stroke of half time. Conversion successful. Souths 18-12.
45th min: TRY - Souths. Luke Macdougall scores in the corner off a deft Ashley Harrison grubber. Conversion unsuccessful. Souths 22-12.
66th min: Greg Bird (Sharks) is sent off for deliberately kneeing Shane Marteene in the face. One of the worst cheap shots I have ever seen and Bird will be spending half the season on the sidelines at least.
67th min: TRY - Souths. Luke Macdougall scores his second int eh corner to rub salt into an already gaping Sharks wound and with just over ten minutes remaining, the Bunnies keep their place in the top eight and it is well deserved. Conversion unsuccessful. Souths 26-12.
70th min: TRY - Souths. Sweet revenge for Shane Marteene as he crosses for anothe Bunnies try. conversion successful. Souths 32-12.
78th min: TRY - Souths. Luke Macdougall gets try number three and the Sharks are in turmoil yet again. Well done Souths on a comprehensive victory and a confidence boosting win to keep the critics at bay. Conversion unsuccessful. Souths 36-12.
FULL TIME: Well done Souths on a fantastic victory but Stuart Raper and the Sharks have plenty of work to do otherwise they will be a prime candidate for the wooden spoon.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - Luke Macdougall (Souths) 2 - Bryan Fletcher (Souths) 1 - Adam Macdougall (Souths) -----------------------------------------