Burgess inspires Rabbitohs trial win
South Sydney's script with Sam Burgess and Greg Inglis in the lead roles played out to perfection on the Gold Coast with the pair each scoring tries in the Rabbitohs' 22-20 win over the Titans at Pizzey Park on Saturday night.
With the first-choice No.7s for both teams, Adam Reynolds and Ashley Taylor, missing the game through injury it was an error-riddled opening with the Titans dominating territory and possession for much of the first half without being able to convert.
The Titans led 14-10 at half-time but the longer the game went the more Burgess and Inglis asserted their class in their first game together in more than 16 months. Their tries came less than five minutes apart midway through the second half in a Souths surge that the Titans were unable to repel.
Burgess's first stint of 25 minutes spanned the opening two quarters of the game, his first touch the third hit-up of the game that attracted the attention of three Titans defenders. A heavy hit on Ryan James jolted the ball free close to the line in the opening exchanges before he earned the ire of the referees with a high shot on Titans hooker Nathan Friend.
Starting the third quarter, he was pinged for a forward pass that put Zane Musgrove into a hole and probably would have been allowed in the other game, the big Englishman giving the touch judge a questioning glance.
His main area of concern in his 60-minute return to rugby league was brother Thomas limping from the field in the 54th minute with a lower leg injury and a mid-field bomb 10 minutes from full-time that went all of 15 metres.
Inglis regularly injected himself into the attack on the back of Burgess carries and was menacing in attack throughout his 60-minute stint, swatting Titans defenders away with almost every run.
His try in the 59th minute was a well-worked move in front of the posts that saw hooker Damien Cook hit Jason Clark who spun and found Inglis charging onto the ball with no one in front of him. And to be honest, even if there was they wouldn't have stopped him.
Titans forward Zeb Taia was placed on report for a lifting tackle on Inglis in the eighth minute but it took until the end of the first quarter before first points were posted courtesy of South Sydney back-rower Kyle Turner following a 50-metre bust by Bryson Goodwin.
The Titans scored the next two tries through Brian Kelly and Anthony Don to lead 10-6 before former Gold Coast under-20s player Hymel Hunt continued his impressive pre-season at the Rabbitohs with a try five minutes prior to half-time.
Titans trialist and local favourite Cameron Cullen gave the locals a 14-10 lead advantage at half-time with a sharp left-foot step close to the South Sydney line, Tyrone Roberts landing his first successful conversion of the evening.
Cullen laid on the final try of the night for Taia four minutes from full-time in a sparkling display that may be enough to earn him a full-time contract for season 2016.
Cullen, Kelly and Luke Douglas produced the most eye-catching performances for the Titans while Souths were best served by Inglis, Goodwin, Kyle Turner and Cameron McInnes.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 22 (Kyle Turner, Hymel Hunt, Sam Burgess, Greg Inglis tries; Bryson Goodwin 3 goals) def. Gold Coast Titans 20 (Brian Kelly, Anthony Don, Cameron Cullen tries; Tyrone Roberts, Nathan Davis goals). On report: Zeb Taia (Titans).