Inglis in everything as Souths edge Titans
He lasted just 56 minutes but Greg Inglis responded to criticism of his Origin I performance in the manner that champions often do, inspiring a disjointed Rabbitohs to a 22-16 win over the Titans in front of 15,583 fans at Cbus Super Stadium on Saturday.
If the talk out of Origin was that New South Wales lost the game rather than Queensland won it, Titans coach Neil Henry could lay claim to the same sentiment as his team made every error known to rugby league to continually hand the Rabbitohs a mountain of territory and possession.
Having drawn to within six points of Souths seven minutes from full-time the Titans appeared certain to level the scores when Aidan Sezer put Lachlan Burr into a gaping hole close to the line before a desperate covering tackle from Alex Johnston jolted the ball free as he dived over the line.
Despite having just 32 per cent of the ball in the opening stanza the Titans managed to eke out a 10-6 lead at half-time on the back of some James Roberts brilliance but the longer the second half went on – and the more mistakes they made – the resolute Gold Coast defence of the first half wilted away as South Sydney scored 16 unanswered points.
Two of the Rabbitohs' second-half tries came after Inglis had left the field with concussion after he copped a trailing arm from Ryan James while trying to take an Sezer bomb close to the ground midway through the half.
It would prove to be the end of his afternoon but having been in doubt in the wake of Origin I due to his battle with tonsilitis the week prior it was Inglis who sparked his team to life with a try in the 23rd minute.
Early in the second half he brought the red and green section of the bipartisan crowd to their feet with a 50m bust from his own try-line on the back of yet another Titans mistake that put them in position to level the scores with the first of Chris Grevsmuhl's two tries.
With Inglis already off the field Souths were dealt another blow three minutes from full-time when George Burgess suffered a sickening head clash and was taken from the field, leaving the visitors to finish the game with just two reserves in the dying stages.
In the end it was two tries to Grevsmuhl in the 47th and 70th minutes that proved the difference, the Titans setting up a frantic final few minutes with a second try to Anthony Don in the 73rd minute.
The Titans overcame an enormous weight of possession against them and a controversial try to Rabbitohs skipper Inglis to somehow manufacture a 10-6 lead at the break.
Besides the two tries they scored through Don and Roberts the Titans got to the sixth tackle just three times in the entire half but were still able to repel wave upon wave of South Sydney attack inside their 20-metre line.
Having been in doubt in the wake of Origin I Greg Inglis got proceedings underway with the kick-off and inside the first five minutes Gold Coast twice handed over possession inside their own 30m line as the visitors set up camp down the northern end.
Despite having to make 46 tackles compared to Souths' 21 in the first nine minutes it was the Titans who were first to score on their first excursion into the Rabbitohs' half.
On the back of a penalty on halfway the Titans got early ball to the blistering James Roberts and he gleefully accepted his opportunity to upstage the much-vaunted Rabbitohs defence, skipping to the outside of Bryson Goodwin, drawing Aaron Gray off his wing and putting Anthony Don over for his ninth try of the year.
Despite taking the lead the Titans continued to hand South Sydney territory and possession and eventually Inglis made them pay with an individual effort close to the line in the 23rd minute.
With the Rabbitohs attack still looking disjointed Inglis took things into his own hands, shrugging off Brad Tighe before coming back inside and slicing through under the posts. Referee Gavin Reynolds sent it upstairs as a 'no try' due to a possible obstruction but although Inglis ran around behind the back of Luke Keary the video referees overturned the decision based on Titans back-rower Lachlan Burr initiating the contact with Keary.
Showing admirable resistance in the middle of the field, the Titans played some football when they finally entered South Sydney's half again, an offload by former Rabbitoh Eddy Pettybourne sparking a left-side raid.
From there Sezer once again sent the ball wide and early to Roberts who put on a carbon copy of his earlier move on Goodwin but this time dummied to Don to cross wide out himself, Sezer's sideline conversion sending them to half-time four points to the better.
Titans forward Ryan James was placed on report in the 18th minute for a potential crusher tackle on Inglis that was more unfortunate body positioning than any serious intent.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 22 (Chris Grevsmuhl 2, Greg Inglis, Alex Johnston tries; Issac Luke 3 goals) defeated Gold Coast Titans 16 (Anthony Don 2, James Roberts tries; Aidan Sezer 2 goals) at Cbus Super Stadium. Half-time: Titans 10-6. Crowd: 15,583. On report: Ryan James (Titans, 18th minute). Holden Cup: Rabbitohs 30-26.