Rabbitohs overcome depleted Sharks

Written By Unknown on Senin, 26 Mei 2014 | 23.41

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SOUTH Sydney fans will be cheering today after the Bunnies pushed their way into the NRL top eight _ but make no mistake Michael Maguire's men still have some work to do before they can be rated a serious premiership force.

In a scrappy and lacklustre Monday night clash in Cronulla the Rabbitohs were never seriously under threat as they closed out a 18-0 shutout of the NRL's bottom placed team — the first time Souths had held an opponent scoreless since 1999.

South Sydney's Sam Burgess on his way to scoring a try. Source: News Corp Australia

But given the Sharks were without seven of their best including Origin stars Paul Gallen and Luke Lewis along with Andrew Fifita and Todd Carney and then lost another three before and during Monday night's encounter, the three tries to nil win won't go down as the Bunnies' most impressive performance of the season.

"We knew it was going to be a tough old game. Every time you come down here on a Monday night you end up in an arm wrestle and that is what it was tonight," Maguire said.

"They made it hard for themselves at times. I think we didn't complete five sets in a row there and we had to fight hard on our line.

South Sydney's Adam Reynolds opt for a grubber kick on the 5th tackle. Source: News Corp Australia

"But they are working really hard for each other and we know we need to be better than that from an attacking point of view but our defence held us up strong."

The Rabbitohs managed just one first half try to Sam Burgess to lead 8-0 at halftime before Kirisome Auva'a and Cameron McInnes added two more within six minutes midway through the second half to finally put the Sharks out of their misery — at least for another week.

"I think we are trying really hard," Cronulla coach Peter Sharp said.

"We are working hard at training. We just weren't good enough tonight and we are terribly busted as well.

A Sharks fan cheer for John Morris who played his 300th NRL game. Source: Getty Images

"And in conjunction with that we can't buy a trick off the ref so it just goes hand in hand."

But coming off last round's disappointing loss to Melbourne, Souths' fans can at least be thankful that the win pushes them to seventh on the table ahead of next Monday night's game against the under siege St George Illawarra.

For that match they should have Issac Luke back and the decision now for Maguire is what to do with Luke's two capable replacement's in Apisai Koroisau and McInnes who crossed for his first NRL try.

Koroisau also had another good game and produced a ripper of a shot on Sosaia Feki in the first half that led to Sam Burgess' opening try.

Cronulla's David Fifita leaves the field with an injury during warm up. Source: News Corp Australia

"I have got to make some tough decisions and the two young kids have been doing such a great job through that period when you lose such a good player like Issac," Maguire said.

"You want to make sure you have got some cover and we have shown that with these two young kids coming through."

The Sharks were far from disgraced but for all their effort they just didn't have the quality to match their star-studded opposition.

Cronulla had won their previous three games at home against the Bunnies but Souths were always going to be a massive assignment in veteran John Morris' 300th NRL game."

Cronulla's Sosaia Feki is wrapped up in a tackle by Souths' Sam Burgess. Source: News Corp Australia

Stand-in skipper Wade Graham summed up the feeling in the Sharks' camp in one word: "Frustrated. That's the word that sums it up.

The Sharks have the bye next and Sharp said Fifita was a good chance of returning for the following round against the Dragons.

Cronulla lost David Fifita during warm up while Siosaia Vave copped a knee injury from friendly fire when Koroisau whacked Feki and Ricky Leutele was another casualty.

Luke Burgess also had another strong game for the Rabbitohs up front but the major concern relates to their spluttering attack.

Jeff Robson is tackled by Sam Burgess. Source: Getty Images

With Greg Inglis, Chris McQueen and Ben Te'o missing due to Origin, Monday night's performance was still a long way short of where most expected Souths to be right now.

While Souths' scrambling defence saved them on numerous occasions the fact the severely depleted Sharks were still in the contest midway through the second half told the story of how the Bunnies' attack is still missing the creativity that is going to worry the best teams.

South Sydney's Kirisome Auva'a celebrates after scoring a try. Source: News Corp Australia

SOUTH SYDNEY 18 (K Auva'a S Burgess C McInnes tries A Reynolds 3 goals) bt CRONULLA 0 at Remondis Stadium. Referee: Matt Cecchin, Grant Atkins. Crowd: 8,137

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