South Sydney’s Wayne Bennett and Manly’s Des Hasler have taken pot shots at the referees following the Rabbitohs’ thrilling 21-20 NRL win on Saturday, continuing the game’s whistle-blowing woes.
Three Adam Reynolds field goals have seen the Rabbitohs sink the Dragons 13-12 in an absolute classic at ANZ Stadium in front of over 49,000 fans.
After thrashing the Broncos last week, many believed the Dragons may have played their grand final and were simple cannon fodder for a Rabbitohs side that almost toppled the defending Premiers.
Without five-eighth Gareth Widdop, critics also questioned whether Paul McGregor’s men would have enough points to take down Souths.
And the Dragons weren’t particularly threatening in the first half of Saturday night’s game. But they didn’t need to be, as they stood up in defence to hold the Rabbitohs to just two points.
The first half was rather dour as both sides failed to trouble the scoreboard.
The focus, as it should be in September footy, appeared to be on defence and the Dragons were excelling without the ball, frustrating the Rabbitohs early.
Both teams opted for penalty goals as their first points of the night before a slicing run by much-maligned halfback Ben Hunt saw the Red V go ahead by six points at the break.
An early penalty goal saw Zac Lomax extend his side’s lead to eight. But without second-rower Tariq Sims, the Dragons began to tire and a short ball by Adam Reynolds sent Angus Crichton straight through and he linked with his halfback in support to reduce the deficit to two.
Souths quickly levelled things up with a penalty goal of their own and hit the lead in the 70th minute off a Reynolds field goal.
A late penalty goal in the 76th minute gifted the Dragons the lead once more but a one-on-one strip by Cameron Murray allowed the Rabbitohs to regain possession and Reynolds snapped another one-pointer to lock things up.
Despite a brave effort, the Dragons fell short in the end after a bizarre last-tackle play saw them run it and hand over possession inside their own half.
Reynolds proceeded to kick his third field goal of the night with this one being the difference between the two teams.
The win sees South Sydney take on the Roosters next week in a Saturday night blockbuster while the Dragons’ season comes to an end.