South Sydney has recovered from a horror start to beat St George Illawarra and climb back into the NRL top eight.
The Dragons ran in three tries in the first 16 minutes before the Rabbitohs hit back through some of their Indigenous stars, kicking off the NRL’s Indigenous Round in style with a 32-24 win.
Every one of Souths’ points came from a current or former Indigenous All Star, with winger Alex Johnston crossing for three tries, Cody Walker nabbing a double, and fullback Latrell Mitchell adding a try and four goals.
The victory was soured by a suspected shoulder injury to star halfback Adam Reynolds, who was substituted in the 12th minute and failed to return.
His exit was compounded by the Dragons racing out to a 16-0 lead after as many minutes on Thursday, led by fullback Matt Dufty.
But the Rabbitohs avoided a third straight loss and moved back into the top eight by cobbling together arguably their best hour of football this year.
Walker was the architect, scoring or having a hand in four tries, while Mitchell, in his first game back from suspension, and Johnston, added the finishing touches.
For the Dragons, coach Paul McGregor will be left to rue a blown opportunity to inch closer to the top eight.
The crowd of 2,719 thought they were in for a Dragons walkover early in the night.
Dufty finished off a 90-metre try that began with a heavy Tariq Sims shot on Reynolds that forced a loose ball, and a loose nerve down the halfback’s shoulder.
A Dufty cutout pass for Euan Aitken five minutes later doubled the lead, before the pair linked up again soon after for the Dragons speedster to make it a three-try lead.
The Rabbitohs refused to lie down, kickstarting the comeback when Walker stepped past some lazy defence in the 20th minute.
Having destroyed the Rabbitohs right edge for all three of their tries, Dufty’s lofted pass down their left was intercepted by Johnston for an 85-metre runaway effort.
Their third try was the best of the lot, with a Mitchell cutout releasing Johnston down the left, before he kicked back for Mitchell to level scores at the break.
Johnston and Tyson Frizell traded tries early in the second half, but consecutive Rabbitohs tries to Walker and Johnston sealed the victory.
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South Sydney Rabbitohs, St. George Illawarra Dragons, National Rugby League, Cody Walker, Matthew Dufty, Latrell Mitchell
World news – AU – Dragons squander 16-0 lead in loss to South Sydney