Rabbitohs v Dragons Review

Oh when the Saints, go marching out… oh when the Saints go marching out… no-one can believe they chalked up these numbers… but the Saints are marching out.

Chokers? Maybe. Slump? Certainly. Minor Premiership? Highly unlikely. Premiers? No chance on current form. The St George Illawarra side, who just a month ago seemed a certainty to win the JJ Giltinan Shield and the $100,000 windfall that goes with it as minor premiers, now seem likely to be embarrassed out of the premiership race.

South Sydney absolutely humiliated the Dragons on Saturday night, and with all due respect to the Bunnies, they certainly aren’t one of the better sides in this year’s premiership.

At times it was certainly embarrassing for the Dragons, who offered defence that would have been beaten in a touch football match, let alone an NRL game, just weeks out from a finals series. And from a team playing for the minor premiership!

Several Rabbitohs’ tries were inconceivably soft; the win stretched the Dragons’ slump to three consecutive losses and had them finally relinquish top spot to the Bulldogs.

With a completion rate of just 60 per cent (47 per cent in the first half), the Red V were never in the hunt, finishing the game with a dismal 37 per cent possession rate.

The only saving grace for the Dragons is they will still finish in the top three at worst this year, and as such will have a chance to turn things around and win the title.

But if they play as poorly as this against the rolling Eels, it could be nothing short of a massacre at Kogarah next Friday night.

The Game Swung When… Colin Best waltzed through the Dragons’ goal-line defence untouched in the 18th minute; the writing was well and truly on the wall.

Earlier, in just the fifth minute, John Sutton had walked over after standing in a tackle for an eternity and then when unable to find someone to pass to, he just kicked out of Jamie Soward’s grasp to touch down.

A Jamie Soward try reduced the lead to 12-6 soon after but it was a rare highlight for the Dragons as the Bunnies started a procession of five more tries in the match.

Something was terribly amiss with the Dragons’ attitude as try after try was mounted.

Who Was Hot… John Sutton and Chris Sandow combined well in attack to get the Rabbitohs across the line. Sutton scored twice, had three line breaks and three offloads plus a try assist, while Sandow kicked six from seven goals, a field goal and added three try assists (a shame he missed eight tackles though).

Luke Stuart was solid up front for the Rabbitohs with 173 metres and Nathan Merritt played well with a bung shoulder. Bench players Dave Tyrrell and debutant Jason Clark also had some great touches, much to the delight of the Rabbitohs’ fans.

Who Was Not… Read the St George Illawarra team list in last week’s Big League. Enough said.

Had To Be Seen To Be Believed… After being the benchmark defensively early in the season it was just diabolical to watch the Dragons defend at times. If the first two Rabbitoh tries weren’t soft enough, the third was downright laughable. Ben Lowe is a reasonable first grader, but for the big front-row/second-row forward to run in from 15 metres out, from nothing more sinister then an innocuous Chris Sandow pass, without a hand being even close to laid on him, must have come as a huge surprise to even the man himself.

In terms of good skills, the Nathan Merritt try in the second half was the pick of the bunch. Souths’ hooker Issac Luke jumped out from dummy-half and squeezed between two defenders before offloading to a flying Merritt and the speedster wrong-footed Darius Boyd on a 40-metre dash to the line.

Special mention to a Rabbitohs’ second half dropout which travelled 75 metres before being knocked into touch by Dragon Justin Poore in comical fashion… but by this stage of the match it was basically par for the course.

Injuries… Nathan Merritt ended the match with a shoulder complaint which will probably ensure his year is over a week early.

Refs Watch… Ashley Klein and Steve Lyons weren’t the focus of this match, which is just the way it should be. While the Dragons players seemed to be venting some frustration at times towards the officials they can’t seriously look to blame anyone but themselves for their diabolical performance.

Bad Boys… Rabbitohs centre Colin Best was charged with making a trip in the 75th minute; he’ll be free to play this week with an early guilty plea..

NRL.com Best & Fairest… 3 points – John Sutton (Rabbitohs): A couple of tries and some line breaks and a try assist in a dominant display reminiscent of earlier in the season; 2 points – Chris Sandow (Rabbitohs): Reminded us he can play this game sometimes (in attack anyway) with a 13-point haul and three try assists; 1 point – Luke Stuart (Rabbitohs): Led the South Sydney forward pack with 17 hit-ups for 173 metres and 19 tackles.

Rabbitohs 41 (J Sutton 2, C Best, B Lowe, J Simpson, N Merritt, E Pettybourne tries; C Sandow 6 goals, field goal) def Dragons 6 (J Soward try; J Soward goal) at ANZ Stadium. Crowd: 19,218.