Rabbitohs outlast Sharks in fiery season opener

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The South Sydney Rabbitohs opened their 2023 campaign with a spirited 27-18 win Saturday night over a strong Sharks outfit in a semi-finals rematch at a sold-out PointsBet Stadium.

South Sydney lost prop Tevita Tatola for the game after the Tongan international bore the brunt of some heavy contact in the opening hit-up of the encounter with his replacement Jai Arrow lasting just 22 minutes himself before succumbing to a hamstring issue.

Cronulla looked poised to grab the first points of the contest in the eighth minute of play off a slick left-side shift only for a desperate Lachlan Ilias cover effort to dislodge the ball out of an airborne Ronaldo Mulitalo’s grip.

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Ilias doubled down on his sensational start the following set falling out of a pair of tackle attempts to crawl over the line for the contest’s opening try.

The Sharks tied things up with an effort of their own at the 20-minute mark with a pair William Kennedy grubbers leading to a trio of Braydon Trindall toe-forwards and an electric four-pointer for the latter.

Rabbitohs second-rower Keaon Koloamatangi dummied and fended away from Sharks five-eighth Matt Moylan to wrestle the lead back seven minutes prior to the half-time siren only for the hosts to answer through winger Sione Katoa moments before the break.

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The first points of the second stanza came through Rabbitohs centre Campbell Graham who cruised through a gap down Cronulla’s left edge to make it 18-12.

Latrell Mitchell slotted through a 58th-minute penalty goal to give the Rabbitohs their largest lead of the night.

Campbell Graham crossed for a second seven minutes later in similar fashion to extend the Rabbitohs’ lead beyond two converted tries.


Matters were made worse for the home side when skipper Wade Graham was sent to the sin bin for a bruising high shot earlier in the set.

With Graham binned, Sharks edge forward Teig Wilton pounced on a Moylan grubber with nine minutes left to breathe some life back into the side, however, it proved inconsequential with the Rabbits running away victors in what was a fierce meeting between the two sides.

Mitchell knocked over a 79th-minute field goal to put the icing on the cake for the visitors as they kicked off their year with a victory.

Skipper Cameron Murray led the way for Souths running for 158 metres and making game-high 51 tackles in an 80-minute knock whilst Graham scored a double, ran for a team-high 198 metres, and broke five tackles.

Toby Rudolf was strong for Cronulla running for 163 metres and making 41 tackles whilst Siosifa Talakai added a game-high 201 metres.

The Sharks will look to bounce back when they face 2022 Grand Finalists Parramatta at CommBank Stadium next Friday night.

Graham can accept a three-match ban for his dangerous shot when he fronts the judiciary on Tuesday night or risk missing four matches should he fight it.

Cameron Laing
Owner | Local Supporter
Shire Talk

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