Souths beat Cronulla 14-12
South Sydney proved just why they remain a long way from being the finished product after labouring their way to a 14-12 win over Cronulla at ANZ Stadium.
It looked a case of how many as the Rabbitohs produced a blistering start via the boot of Adam Reynolds, but the foot which hovered above the throat of the Sharks never came down amidst a barrage of dropped balls and poor last-play options.
The visitors almost paid the ultimate price for their wastefulness when Beau Ryan picked up one such fumble and raced 92 metres to cut the margin to two with 14 minutes to go - a desperate Reynolds chase not enough to prevent a thrilling finish.
But the Rabbitohs held on to remain one of just three teams undefeated after the opening two rounds.
Greg Inglis looked in an ominous mood with an early kick return providing the impetus for Souths' opener after five minutes, when Reynolds laid it on a platter for Andrew Everingham with a deft chip kick.
Reynolds showed what else he had in his kit bag, grubbering for Dylan Farrell to double the lead, the calls for him to be handed a NSW Origin jumper sure to grow louder.
Already playing under the pressure of an ASADA investigation hanging over their heads, Cronulla's players had every right to drop their bundle.
But they stuck to the task and came up with a reply via Michael Gordon, who picked up a bouncing ball after Todd Carney had beaten three defenders in a swivelling run near the line.
Reynolds added a penalty goal after the halftime siren, a kick which eventually proved the difference between the two teams.
The Sharks lost Luke Lewis to an ankle injury 12 minutes into the second half, and the Rabbitohs looked like they had kicked away via Nathan Merritt before the hour mark only for the try to be denied because of an obvious Bryson Goodwin obstruction.
Ryan's try added to the Rabbitohs' frustration as did another no-try video referee ruling, this time Reynolds denied as Issac Luke pulled back the marker in the lead-up.
"Frustrating night for us," Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire said.
"Credit to Cronulla, they came out and frustrated our boys and probably got us away from our plan that we've been good at the last couple of weeks.
"We're lucky with the two points and we'll get a fair bit out of that game."
Interim Cronulla coach Peter Sharp said his side was gradually dealing better with the fallout from the drugs scandal engulfing the club.
NRL chief executive Dave Smith visited the players in the dressing room after the match to offer his support.
"It was a tough old game and we hung in there so I don't think the character of this club is in question at all," Sharp said.
"They showed some great character out there tonight again under adverse conditions.
"They're getting on with their business and they'll get on with it next week."
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