The South Sydney Rabbitohs have recorded their sixth-straight win after a scrappy 18-16 victory over a brave Gold Coast Titans side at CBUS Super Stadium.
The Rabbitohs headed into Friday night's clash without their four Origin stars (Damien Cook, Angus Crichton, Greg Inglis, Dane Gagai). They were able to manage without them in last week's 22-14 win over Cronulla, however, this week's two points were far harder to secure. The 16 errors, many of which were made coming out of their own end, will be a particular focus for coach Anthony Seibold as South Sydney prepare for the Parramatta Eels next week.
The Titans were the first on the scoreboard when Phillip Sami scooped up the scraps after an Ashley Taylor bomb to cross over out wide. South Sydney hit back eight minutes later after a right-side raid saw Adam Doueihi step inside to stroll over in the 11th minute. The Rabbitohs were suddenly riding a wave of momentum and Sam Burgess looked to have barged over in his 150th game, only for the try to be pulled back for an obstruction. Ill-discipline was plaguing the home side early and they were made to pay in the 16th minute when Keegan Hipgrave was sent to the sin-bin. Only moments later Cody Walker embarrassed the undermanned Titans outfit when he outpaced half of the squad on the way to the try line.
However, the Rabbitohs failed to take more advantage of the one-man overlap, with errors disrupting any momentum they had. The Titans have gained a reputation for being one of the more resilient teams in the competition and they were soon rewarded for their determination when Ryan James crashed over three South Sydney defenders to level the scores up in the 31st minute. As a result, the contest was locked up at 10-all at the break.
An early penalty goal saw the Rabbitohs regain the lead in the 43rd minute before a string of penalties saw Hipgrave the unlucky culprit again as he was sent for his second stint in the bin. South Sydney quickly capitalised when Alex Johnston finished off a nice exchange of passes in the 46th minute. Seibold's men were unable to kick away, however, with his side struggling to complete their sets as they worked it out from their own end.
Eventually they were punished when James barged over for his second try in the 59th minute off a lovely short ball from Mitch Rein. Poor ball handling from the Bunnies continued to gift the Titans with the chance to steal the two points, yet the Rabbitohs were able to hold on for a tense 18-16 win.
The Rabbitohs may have been missing key men for Friday night's game, however, the Titans also faced adversity with Max King (shoulder) and Moeaki Fotuaika (concussion) failing to finish the contest.
Next week the Rabbitohs look for seven-straight against the struggling Eels on Thursday night while the Titans aim to bounce back against the lowly Bulldogs at Belmore on Saturday afternoon.