A hat-trick of field goals from Adam Reynolds has seen South Sydney lock in a preliminary finals spot with a hard fought 13-12 victory over the St George Illawarra Dragons in front of just under 50,000 fans at ANZ Stadium.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs were looking to put a tumultous week behind them by booking their spot in the 2018 NRL preliminary finals meanwhile the St George Illawarra Dragons were looking to spring their second upset in a row with another scalp against an higher ranked team.
Both sides had early chances but a high pressure defence from both sides which didn't give their oppponents an inch in attack. The Rabbitohs had plenty of early chances but they couldn't turn the dominance into a try but they did open the scoring after the Dragons gave away a high tackle penalty in front of their posts. Adam Reynolds took the two points and opened up an early 2-0 win.
The Rabbitohs continued their momentum but an overeager Angus Crichton gave away a penalty for not playing the ball properly. The Rabbitohs then coughed up the ball inside their own half which invited the Dragons to mount pressure but the Bunnies knowing they were under pressure gave away a penalty and the Dragons opted to take the two and level the scores up at 2-2.
The Red and Green faithful will have a nervous wait for the judiciary with Greg Inglis potentially facing trouble after an awkward crusher tackle on one of the Dragons players whilst the Dragons could potentially have their own nervous wait after Jeremy Latimore was put on report for taking out Campbell Graham in the air in an awkward contest. The Dragons put themselves in front with a beautiful run from Ben Hunt who sliced his way through the line and scored the first try. The conversion from close range was successful by Zac Lomax and the Dragons took an 8-2 lead into the break.
The Rabbitohs were again up against the momentum from the Dragons who were making the Rabbitohs backtrack but although the Rabbitohs needed to stand up in the defence they did just that and it forced the Dragons into taking a penalty goal and opened up an 8 point lead for the Dragons. The inability to crack the Rabbitohs defensive hurt the Dragons as the Rabbitohs were able to swingthe momentum back in their favour and took advantage when Adam Reynolds found a good pass onto Angus Crichton who went through space before finding Reynolds who finished the play after starting it.
The Rabbitohs then levelled the scores up with a penalty goal to 10-10 before the Dragons were able to get the ball back thanks to an error from Robert Jennings. The Dragons took a conservative set deep in the attack and when Ben Hunt took a field goal attempt it sailed wide and the Rabbitohs had the ball from the 20m line. The missed field goal came back to hurt the Dragons as Adam Reynolds slotted a field goal from right in front. Things continued to turn against the Dragons when in good position, Cam McInnes was penalised for deliberately throwing a pass into an offside Rabbitohs defender and gave up vital field position.
The Red 'V' weren't done for yet as they got the ball back and they got the break they were looking for when Gerard Sutton penalised the Red & Green for a slow ruck which gave the Dragons a penalty goal shot from in front to go up 12-11 on the scoreboard. The lead didn't last long for the Rabbitohs with some good work by Cam Murray to force a one on one strip and put the Rabbitohs into field goal range and Adam Reynolds hit his second of the game to level things up at 12-12.
Inside the final minute, the game looked set for Extra time however an error from the Dragons coughed up the ball just on the halfway mark which gave the Rabbitohs one set of six to try and get the match winner. The cool and calm Adam Reynolds settled the side down and controlled the set and despite not getting into field goal position straight away, he took the shot and nailed his third field goal to put the Rabbitohs 13-12 up. The Dragons couldn't regather the short kick-off and the Rabbitohs wound down the clock and locked in their preliminary final spot against arch-rivals the Roosters next weekend.