SOUTH Sydney coach Jason Taylor said he feared the Rabbitohs’ off-field dramas were affecting his side’s performance after its woeful season continued with a 26-12 loss to St George Illawarra.

The Dragons ran in five tries to two at ANZ Stadium to extend their winning streak to three and inflict further pain on Souths, who were coming off yet another traumatic week.

Making matters worse for Souths was what Taylor described as an “astronomical mistake” at the end of the first half when NRL’s official timekeeper accidentally sounded the siren with 50 seconds still on the clock.

Souths were trailing 12-6 at the time and attacking on the Dragons line when the siren suddenly sounded, forcing prop Michael Greenfield to put in a cross-field bomb.

“We had time to play a whole set of six and for the hooter to go and for us to have to kick the ball, it changes the whole game,” Taylor said after the match.

“It was embarrassing I thought.”

Of even more concern to Taylor was the fact Souths’ public dramas and administration shake-up might be creeping into his players’ minds.

Last week saw the resignation of executive chairman Peter Holmes a Court, who was replaced by former chief executive Shane Richardson and former chairman Nick Pappas.

Premiership-winning coach John Lang was then appointed as a football consultant, sparking speculation over Taylor’s job security, while to top it off on Thursday the club’s star 2009 recruit Luke Lewis turned his back on the club to remain with Penrith.

“If you’d asked me before the game I would have said (the dramas) had no affect,” Taylor said.

“But it’s one of those things, it might be sneaking into the back of the players’ minds.

“… It sounds like I’ve lost the plot a little bit, but we’ve been training well consistently and we’re just not taking it onto the field.

“That’s the disappointing part and that’s the scary part for us.”

With co-owner Russell Crowe looking on, the Rabbitohs started brightly when Shannon Hegarty crossed in the fourth minute.

But the improving Dragons, who were without their injured star Mark Gasnier, piled on five unanswered tries including two to backrower Ben Creagh early in the second half.

Creagh’s second was the pick of the tries, the big secondrower racing 40 metres to score after he was put into space by Ben Hornby.

Chase Stanley, Rangi Chase and Jason Nightingale also scored while debutant Luke Capewell got a fine late consolation for the Bunnies.

The win continued a significant turnaround in form for Nathan Brown’s side, which managed only one win from its first six games of the season.

“Things are definitely going reasonably well, that’s for sure,” Brown said.

“I think it’s fair to say things are improving.”

Asked of the timekeeper error Brown said he thought the infamous “phantom siren” had returned.

“Obviously it was luck our way but we had some things go against us before that and we were good enough to hang it out,” Brown said.

By ricky

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