Rabbitohs defeat fast finishing Titans
The South Sydney Rabbitohs have secured their sixth straight victory with a 22-18 win over the Gold Coast Titans at Skilled Park in round 22.by NRL
The South Sydney Rabbitohs have secured their sixth straight victory with a 22-18 win over the Gold Coast Titans at Skilled Park in round 22.
The Rabbitohs led by 16 points with 20 minutes to go and survived a spirited Titans' comeback to move to 32 competition points in front of a crowd of 20,187 Members and supporters.
Despite the Titans having the majority of possession and the better of field position throughout the 80 minutes, the Rabbitohs fought hard to beat the in-form Titans away from home.
The first half was a tough and uncompromising battle with both sides defending strongly and powerfully.
Rabbitohs front rower Sam Burgess was put on report in the third minute of play for a tackle on Titans' fullback William Zillman, giving the home side a piggy back up field into good attacking position.
Rabbitohs fullback Nathan Merritt diffused a difficult bomb under pressure, getting the Rabbitohs out of the trouble early.
It was not until the 12th minute of play that the Titans broke the deadlock, with centre Steve Michaels scoring from an undiffused bomb. Scott Prince added the extras to give the Titans a six-nil lead.
The Titans continued to put the Rabbitohs under pressure, with some huge defensive efforts keeping them from posting more points.
A very important tackle from South Sydney centre Matt King on huge opposite number Jamal Idris got the Rabbitohs out of trouble in the 15th minute, followed seven minutes later by a try-saving tackle from halfback Adam Reynolds just metres out from the Souths line.
From the ensuing set of six, the Rabbitohs posted their first points through centre Dylan Farrell. A desperate play from second rower Chris McQueen, pouncing a loose ball before Prince, gave the Rabbitohs possession. South Sydney worked the ball down field, with second rower Dave Taylor making some strong metres down the right hand side. A quick play the ball by Taylor gave five-eighth John Sutton a chance to put the Titans on the back foot with a blind side charge, offloading to Farrell who kicked the ball ahead. Winger Andrew Everingham came up with the ball, got the arm free and offloaded back to Farrell who ran the ball around towards the posts to score. Adam Reynolds converted to level the scores at six-all.
The Rabbitohs' defence continued to be strong with fullback Nathan Merritt pulling off a try-saver in the 27th minute, and some great goal line defence holding out the home side in the 31st minute.
The video referee denied Titans' winger David Mead a try in the 33rd minute when Luke O'Dwyer was ruled to have taken out McQueen, giving the Rabbitohs some much needed possession.
They made the most of the opportunity, scoring a try two minutes later through winger and Tweed Heads product Justin Hunt.
Reynolds put up a bomb with Farrell tapping the ball backwards. The ball was cleaned up by Sam Burgess, who himself put in a cross field kick. The ball went through the hands of McQueen, was picked up by Sutton, who then showed quick hands to fling the ball out to the left wing along the ground, with Hunt charging through on the loose ball to score. The video referee awarded a 'benefit of the doubt' try to give the men in cardinal and myrtle a 10-6 lead.
The hits continued to come in the final minutes of the half, with Jason Clark sporting a massive head gash which required attention, then winger Andrew Everingham dished out a monster hit on Titans lock and former Rabbitohs captain Ashley Harrison in the final minute of the half.
The Rabbitohs went into the break with a 10-6 advantage, despite the Titans enjoying a majority of possession and field position.
The second half began in the same fashion as the first, with both teams belting each other in defence.
A massive break from Dave Taylor in the 47th minute, plus another attacking opportunity in the 49th minute gave the Rabbitohs confidence.
Jason Clark was split open for the second time in the afternoon after being kicked square in the face by David Mead whilst completing a tackle, resulting in Clark being ordered from the field to the blood bin.
The Rabbitohs were the first to post points in the second half when Andrew Everingham snapped up an intercept from a Scott Prince long ball, racing 90 metres to score adjacent to the posts. Reynolds' conversion gave the Rabbitohs a ten-point advantage with less than 30 minutes left on the clock.
South Sydney put another nail in the Titans' coffin in the 60th minute when Hunt scored his second try for the afternoon. The Rabbitohs had good field position and directed the play to the left. Sutton ran the ball and engaged the defence before passing to Merritt. Quick hands and a pin point cut-out pass to Justin Hunt saw him set sail for the corner, scoring his second and the Rabbitohs' fourth try of the afternoon. Reynolds' conversion from the touchline took the scoreline to 22-6 in favour of the visitors.
The Titans began their comeback in the 72nd minute of play when Aidan Sezer chased through a Scott Prince grubber kick under the posts. Prince converted to take the scores to 22-12 in favour of the Rabbitohs.
The Titans stepped the attack up a gear, having another opportunity to score in the 76th minute, but Justin Hunt was cool under pressure, diffusing a bomb, then turning defence into attack to get the Rabbitohs out of their own end.
That was not the end for the Titans, scoring a try through winger Kevin Gordon in the 78th minute. A repeat set gave the Titans good field position, with the ball swung to the left wing to score. Prince converted from the touch line to take the scoreline to 22-18.
The Titans continued to attack, putting the Rabbitohs' defence under pressure again, but a touch judge ruled an Ashley Harrison inside ball to William Zillman to have gone forward, thwarting the Gold Coast's final opportunity to steal the win, giving the Rabbitohs vital possession.
The Rabbitohs held out for the final few moments, registering their sixth straight victory and maintaining second place on the Telstra Premiership ladder.
"We've got plenty to work on from that one," Rabbitohs Head Coach Michael Maguire said.
"We've got standards that we live by and at times we didn't do that.
"Full credit to the Titans. They were fighting for everything."
Rabbitohs co-captain Michael Crocker said: "We were a little bit off in our attack and a little bit sloppy in our defence.
"We've got a long way to go and plenty to work on for this week."
The Rabbitohs now have a short turn-around as they move into round 23 against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at Bluetongue Stadium next Friday night.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 22 (Justin Hunt 2, Dylan Farrell, Andrew Everingham tries; Adam Reynolds 3 goals)
Gold Coast Titans 18 (Steve Michaels, Aidan Sezer, Kevin Gordon tries; Scott Prince 3 goals)
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