Dragons get off to historic start despite Souths scare
The Dragons have survived the gustiest of green and red revivals to secure a club-record fifth straight win to start the season, downing the Rabbitohs 16-12 in heart-stopping fashion at Jubilee Oval.
With just nine minutes to play the Dragons were cruising at 16-2, having lapped up almost 70 per cent of first-half possession and watched Bunnies linchpin Adam Reynolds forced from the field due to concussion.
But with Cody Walker pulling a game-turning try out of his hat and Greg Inglis following suit two minutes later, Souths had the locals well and truly rattled.
With all the running late in the piece it was a cruel dropped ball by Walker, the brightest spark in cardinal and myrtle by some margin, that eventually sounded the death knell for Souths.
Until the Rabbitohs late resurgence, history had the Dragons daring to dream, even if their fans weren't.
The Red V faithful have been burnt as recently as last year by their team's fade-outs, when six wins from their first seven games weren't enough for a top-eight finish.
But with 10 competition points in the bank already after just five weeks, a finals berth is now the Dragons' to lose.
Of the 12 teams to start a season in the same fashion since 1998, only one has watched September from the sidelines – the Cowboys when Johnathan Thurston missed half the 2006 season with a dislocated knee.
A rough and ready win over the fast-finishing Rabbitohs should only swell St George Illawarra's confidence, while Souths can take plenty of heart from leaving it all and then some on the paddock.
Match: Dragons vs Rabbitohs
Venue: Jubilee Oval
- Nine Network
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
The Rabbitohs' courage under fire was there from the outset, when Alex Johnston weathered the first of testing Dragons bombs that kept coming all night.
The next time Ben Hunt took to the air Dane Gagai couldn't handle the swirling ball.
But when the home side sent all 108 kilos of Nene Macdonald at them the pair somehow managed to hold him up boots and all, with Johnston's foot getting underneath the Steeden to save a try.
Just as remarkable was the Dragons' first points. Rising centre Euan Aitken stopped, started and beat Inglis all ends up on the outside from close range.
Gareth Widdop added a penalty goal before McDonald was denied again in the 32nd minute, this time by a controversial obstruction ruling against Tariq Sims which had the Kogarah faithful fuming.
A penalty on the halftime bell put Souths on the board, but Matt Dufty's sublime speed soon after the break looked to have put the Bunnies to bed.
With the Rabbitohs on the attack an errant pass found its way to Hunt, who in turn found Dufty on a 60m sprint to the line.
A Damien Cook bust had Souths in striking distance soon after and Robert Jennings setting sail for the corner, only for Jason Nightingale to celebrate his 250th outing by crunching him into touch.
The Rabbitohs kept coming, and the Dragons kept denying, before a clever run around from Walker produced the visitors' first try.
Quick hands involving the Rabbitohs five-eighth a minute later had Inglis over for a try of his own and a grandstand finish was in the offing.