The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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It may have just been a trial, but both teams played as if there were two competition points on the line, as Souths ran out 18 points to 6 victors over St George in the Charity Shield.
Both teams fielded near full strength lineups in their final pre-season hitout, and with all stars on show the 25-thousand plus crowd were treated to an entertaining spectacle full of free flowing football, and stinging defence.
As expected, there were quite a few handling errors, especially late in the game, however as it was just a trial match neither team would be too concerned.
The main goal from tonight's match was for each coach to see where their team was at after a long and arduous pre-season.
From tonight's showing, both teams look well positioned to give the competition a good shake.
The Dragons have quite a few new players in their ranks, and apart from some issues with fluency in attack, the new team looks to have come together well, and under guidance from former Brisbane mentor Wayne Bennett, should be top 8 regulars in 2009.
Souths fans also have reason to be optimistic, with Chris Sandow and John Sutton leading their team around the park masterfully. Isaac Luke has continued his form from last year that saw him play a vital role in New Zealand's World Cup win, and new signings Rhys Wesser and Colin Best were heavily involved.
Also on show tonight for the first time on national television was the NRL's biggest change for 2009 - the dual referee system.
As has been reported by many clubs and officials over the past month, the new system worked perfectly, with the second, or "pocket" referee, being almost invisible and never getting in the way.
The game was noticably faster, with more quick play-the-balls due to the second ref only refereeing the ruck and calling players off as soon as the tackle was completed, penalising those who lingered for longer than a second too long.
The games most controversial rule change in over 100 years certainly looks to have paid off.
South Sydney Rabbitohs (18)
Tries: Nathan Merritt, Colin Best (2)
Goals: Issac Luke (3/3)
St George Illawarra Dragons (6)
Tries: Beau Scott
Goals: Matthew Head (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match
3 Points: Chris Sandow
2 Points: John Sutton
1 Point: Issac Luke
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
Good evening and welcome to season 2009!
With the season proper still two weeks away, what better way to get back into the swing of things than with the annual Charity Shield match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and St George Illawarra Dragons. Whilst classified as a trial match, the Charity Shield has a rich and thorough history with many a classic match played between these two clubs over the years, and tonight should be no different. As the name suggests, this match is being held in aid of charity, partiularly the St George Foundation and Souths Cares.
Team lineups are as follows: Rabbitohs: 1. Rhys Wesser 2. Nathan Merritt 3. Colin Best 4. Shaun Corrigan 5. Fetuli Talanoa 6. John Sutton 7. Chris Sandow 8. Luke Stuart 9. Issac Luke 10. Roy Asotasi 11. David Kidwell 12. Shannan McPherson 13. David Fa'alogo
Interchange: Beau Falloon Eddy Pettybourne Jaiman Lowe Ben Lowe Garrett Crossman Jamie Simpson Luke Capewell Dave Tyrell Chris McQueen Kane Cleal