It was another game that saw a true tale of two halves as the South Sydney Rabbitohs were able to outlast the Cronulla Sharks.
The Rabbitohs, up 20-0 after 30 minutes, then faltered slightly as the Cronulla Sharks drew the deficit back to 20-16 in the second half.
It was the elder statesman in Benji Marshall that put on an early show as he combined with in-form barnstorming Keaon Koloamatangi.
Marshall was again involved in the Rabbitohs’ second try after he delivered a lovely cut-out pass to Alex Johnston as the Rabbitohs went up 12-0.
Cody Walker would then enter the fray from fullback as he was able to put Dane Gagai through a gap.
The veteran Origin centre was able to find Walker back on his inside and the fullback did the rest to score.
This score for the Rabbitohs came soon after they went down to 12 men after Jaydn Su’a was sin-binned.
The Sharks would refuse to put their heads down and came out in the second half with renewed energy.
Chad Townsend would drift to the right and find Will Kennedy who was able to burst through the line and score.
Townsend would be involved for the Sharks’ second try as well, as they fought tooth and nail to try and wrestle back sustained momentum.
This time, after a decision that was confirmed by the bunker, it was Aaron Woods who would go over after a nice lead-up play from Andrew Fifita.
Briton Nikora’s name would be next on the scoresheet as the Sharks continued to claw their way back into the contest.
On the back of some quality play from Matt Moylan, Nikora ran a perfect line to power over with relative ease.
A rather contentious try then came for the Rabbitohs as they tried their hardest to hold onto their lead.
Tevita Tatola took the line on, spun, was on the ground, and offloaded the ball with Cody Walker bustling through to score his second.
Jai Arrow then scored his first try in Rabbitohs colours after he was able to score off some nice work from Damien Cook.
A Sharks scored a late consolation as Kennedy turned provider for the Sharks to lay on a try for Mawene Hiroti in the corner.
In the eyes of Wayne Bennett, it is the stop and start style that is hurting the game the most.
“You’ve got to understand that the game relies on momentum,” Bennett said.
“For the game to be attractive it needs to have momentum in it and every time you stop the game it breaks the momentum and everybody has to go back and they have to start it all over again.”
Despite their up-and-down nature in 2021 to date, interim Sharks coach Josh Hannay believes the side is still capable of a finals berth.
“There’s so much footy left in the year I think every team in that bottom bracket will feel like ‘If we can figure it out sooner than the rest, we can make a run of this’,” Hannay said.
“It’s one of those competitions at the moment. So we’re in that bottom bracket and while we showed that form in the second half tonight it gives us reason to believe and hope that we can make a surge.
“It all comes down to consistency and we’re a very up and down team.”
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Cody Walker (SOU)
2. Will Kennedy (CRO)
1. Jai Arrow (SOU)