JAMES POLSON: Todd Carney kicks it out with the restart and that's a great win for his Cronulla side. A tough performance from the Sharks who make it four in a row to jump back into the top eight, that victory has them into seventh spot ahead of this weekend's Origin-affected fixtures. Carney just about man-of-the-match in an effort that might bring him right back into Origin calculations after the withdrawal of Kurt Gidley through injury earlier today. The Rabbitohs remain on top of the ladder but are only one point ahead of Melbourne. Thanks for your company tonight, be sure to grab a copy of tomorrow's for all the wash-up from Michael Carayannis as well as all the latest Origin news. We'll be back on Friday night with the aforementioned 'Sonny' Phil Mitchell in the chair as the Bulldogs host the Dragons at ANZ Stadium. Thanks again.
80 min: Nathan Gardiner lets a high ball bounce before the Sharks get a penalty which will just about be curtains. Sharks 14 Rabbitohs 12.
79 min: Carney's kick goes all the way back to the Bunnies' 10m line. Timely stuff in what has been a stellar showing from the Origin-overlooked playmaker.
78 min: Frantic stuff as the Rabbitohs chase the matchwinner but Souths are back in possession. The Bunnies might get one more shot.
75 min: Greg Inglis caught in-goal and the Sharks will be on the right end of a line drop-out. They also remain on the right end of the score 14-12.
71 min: Nathan Peats takes the intercept 5m out as the Sharks were beginning to look dangerous again.
71 min: Into the final 10 minutes of this clash and the Sharks still lead by the (second) slenderest of margins, 14-12.
67 min: I'm happy to confess I have no idea what happened just there. Sutton has left the field before play resumes and somehow the Sharks end up with the penalty before spilling it and now we have something of a stink going on.
67 min: John Sutton looks to be in all sorts of trouble after copping an accidental hit from Jayson Bukuya as he goes to ground. Not looking good at all for the five-eighth.
64 min: Carney's grubber rolls dead and Souths are darting back to the 20m for the restart. Score remains Sharks 14 Rabbitohs 12.
62 min: We're resetting that scrum after the Bunnies pack collapsed on the ball.
61 min: Andrew Fifita goes for the corner but is bundled into touch and either way it seems we've been called back for a forward pass.
60 min: Sharks get another penalty just to the good of halfway and will restart 20m out from the Souths line.
59 min: Carney adds the two and takes back the lead for the Sharks 14-12.
58 min: Penalty to the Sharks who surely will take the gift of two points.
57 min: Nathan Merritt spills an awkward high ball and the Sharks have the scrum feed 10m out from the Rabbitohs' line.
54 min: Anthony Tupou makes the break for the Sharks who are now 30m out from the Bunnies' line. Scores remain locked at 12-12.
52 min: Nathan Gardiner taken into touch in-goal and Souths will have the line drop-out.
50 min: John Sutton makes the bust before being neutralised by Isaac De Gois. Rabbitohs 20m out on the last and the Sharks get away with this one, restarting from their own 10m line.
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44 min: All too easy for big Sam Burgess who crosses for the Rabbitohs' second. No issue there and it's Sharks 10 Rabbitohs 6 with an Adam Reynolds kick to come.
43 min: Bryson Goodwin dives for the corner again but Nathan Gardiner and Beau Ryan are equal to the task.
42 min: Dylan Walker looks to have been hurt in that tackle 10m out from the Sharks line but he remains in play.
41 min: Back under way for the second half as Dave Tyrrell takes the first carry for Souths.
They say a change is as good as holiday, so here's something different for tonight's half-time entertainment courtesy of Happy Days. Rumours Michael Maguire showed this in the Souths dressing room remain unconfirmed. Eyyyyyyyyy........
Here's Michael Carayannis' take on the opening term:
"A willing first half between two strong forward packs. Already Todd Carney's boot is proving the difference but if there's one player who can kick back it's South Sydney's Adam Reynolds. Despite the rain, already a high-calibre game. Sharks looking strong."
JAMES POLSON: And that's the end of the first half, we'll be back in a few minutes with the half-time assessment from our man on the ground, Michael Carayannis, as well as tonight's half-time entertainment. The Sharks have the lead 12-6 and deserve their two tries, the Rabbitohs have looked dangerous with ball in hand but haven't been able to convert their opportunities in fairly terrible conditions. Back soon.
Herald sport's resident league tragic and fellow blogger 'Sonny' Phil Mitchell who, it must be mentioned, is a dyed-in-the-wool Tricolour, has chimed in with his thoughts on Burgess' effort.
"What burgess did was as dangerous if not more so than JWH!" he says. What do you think?
No try ruled but the Sharks will have the final say in this first half as Souths take the line drop-out.
As promised, and some handy reading given the half-time break is almost upon us, here's Glenn Jackson's story on Kurt Gidley being ruled out of Origin I.
37 min: Dylan Walker lines up Ben Pomeroy and catches the Shark with the ball on the last. Turnover.
37 min: Beau Ryan goes from dummy-half and loses a few metres in the process.
37 min: Another penalty to the Sharks and they're right on the Bunnies' line once again.
36 min: Penalty to the Sharks as Sam Burgess goes on report for what looks like a bit of grapple action on Andrew Fifita who looks a bit worse for wear.
35 min: Carney makes no mistake and extends the lead to Sharks 12 Rabbitohs 6.
33 min: Jayson Bukuya makes up for his earlier error and there's no question about this one. Todd Carney's kick hits John Sutton in the foot before Bukuya picks it up, steps Greg Inglis and crosses untouched. Sharks 10 Rabbitohs 6, kick to come.
No try ruled and the score remains Sharks 6 Rabbitohs 6 as we enter the final stages of this first half.
Ben Lowe has made an instant impact there keeping De Gois from grounding the ball. Should be no try ruled.
32 min: Isaac de Gois is over, the men in pink think it's a try, but we're going to the video to be sure.
32 min: Sharks get the penalty 10m out from the Rabbitohs' line and with it a golden opportunity to wrest back the lead.
31 min: Another change for the Rabbitohs as Ben Lowe replaces Ben Te'o.
The rain appears to have kept poor David's mates from heading down to the local for the game. Someone keep him company:
28 min: Greg Inglis lucky there as he lets the high ball bounce and is lucky to recover it.
Change for the Rabbitohs as Dave Tyrrell comes on for George Burgess. Still 6-6.
25 min: Issac Luke with the error this time and the Sharks go on the attack again.
23 min: Reynolds goes high again and Souths get the bounce but it's eventually ruled a knock-on against the Rabbitohs. Jayson Bukuya obliges and comes up with the error and the Bunnies are right back where they started from as they get the penalty.
22 min: Souths will have the scrum feed on their own line after a fairly limp set from the Sharks. Score remains tied at 6-6.
19 min: Souths with the line drop-out and Beau Ryan for reasons best known to himself attempts to keep it in play and knocks on in the process.
17 min: The Sharks get the whistle this time after Jeff Robson is hit long before the Rabbitohs' bomb comes his way.
16 min: A thing of beauty from Reynolds there as he adds the extras from the sideline. All tied up - Sharks 6 Rabbitohs 6.
14 min: Souths go wide with a three-man overlap and Bryson Goodwin crosses in the corner. Good vision and good hands from the Rabbitohs starting with, who else, Adam Reynolds. Sharks 6 Rabbitohs 4, kick to come.
13 min: Adam Reynolds goes high with the kick but Nathan Gardiner has spilled it and the Rabbitohs will have another shot in great field position.
12 min: Greg Inglis beats a couple to make some good metres off his own line.
11 min: Beau Champion comes up with the error this time. Sharks scrum feed on their own 10m line.
10 min: Another penalty to the Rabbitohs who have a golden opportunity to hit back.
8 min: Sensational defence from the Sharks there on the first tackle as Dylan Walker is bundled into touch by a barrage of Sharks. They've come to play tonight.
7 min: Souths get the penalty this time with the Sharks line penalised for being inside the 10.
5 min: Todd Carney adds the extras and that's a dream start for the Sharks. Sharks 6 Rabbitohs 0.
4 min: Try awarded. Sharks 4 Rabbitohs 0 with a kick to come. Great start for the home side.
4 min: John Morris looks to have scored the opener for the Sharks but we're heading upstairs to see if he had some help from behind. Should be a try though.
4 min: The Rabbitohs have been pinged for obstruction during the Sharks' kick-chase and have another set right on the Bunnies' line.
2min: George Burgess has collected Nathan Gardiner high and the Sharks have the penalty.
1 min: Bryson Goodwin gets us under way and Ben Ross takes the first hit-up for the Sharks.
JAMES POLSON: Welcome to tonight's coverage to wrap up round 11 as the Sharks host the table-topping Rabbitohs. Souths have the chance to go four points clear at the top of the NRL ladder with a win tonight, but wet conditions at Shark Park mean I won't go predicting anything. We'll keep you updated with any team changes as they come to hand but we can confirm that Jeff Lima has been left out of the Rabbitohs' 17. Some big news breaking out of the NSW Origin camp with Kurt Gidley ruled out of next week's opener, we'll have a story on smh.com.au which I'll send your way as soon as we get it. Queensland have just named their side as well:
Billy Slater, Darius Boyd, Greg Inglis, Justin Hodges, Brent Tate, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Matt Scott, Cameron Smith (capt), Dave Shillington, Nate Myles, Sam Thaiday, Ashley Harrison. Interchange: Ben Te’o, Matt Gillett, Corey Parker, Chris McQueen. 18th and 19th men: Daly Cherry-Evans, Josh Papalii.
Big news with Chris McQueen being handed his Origin debut, while Daly Cherry-Evans' chances presumably hinge on injuries after Cooper Cronk wasn't charged after Saturday's match.
Sharks Stadium, Monday 7pm (AEST)
Last meeting: Round 2 2013 - Souths 14 bt Sharks 12 at ANZ Stadium
Head-to-head: Sharks 45 Souths 40 drawn 3
Referees: Ben Cummins, Brett Suttor
TV: FoxSports 1 (live)
TAB Sportsbet: Sharks $3.40 Souths $1.33
FootyTab: Sharks +6.5
Phil Mitchell writes: Not that they need any encouragement but Souths diehards will be death-riding their arch rivals the Roosters on Saturday night. If the the Storm beat the Roosters and the Rabbitohs defeat Cronulla, Souths will move three points clear of the Storm and four ahead of the Roosters at the top of the table. That would be a handy buffer heading into the State of Origin period, which is unlikely to affect Souths too much but will test the Roosters and Storm.
The Rabbitohs will be mindful, though, not to get ahead of themselves because Cronulla are likely to be tricky opponents. The Sharks will be buoyed by the return of internationals Paul Gallen and Luke Lewis, and have won their two previous encounters against the Rabbitohs at Sharks Stadium.
Phil's tip: Rabbitohs by four
AAP writes: South Sydney have enjoyed an entirely smooth ride in their rise to the top of the NRL ladder this year. That all changed when star signing Ben Te’o was this week accused of assaulting a Brisbane woman. How that will impact their on-field form remains to be seen. But if there is one team in the competition who is aware of what a disruptive preparation can do to a team’s form, it’s Cronulla. But the Sharks appear to have managed to put the distracting ASADA investigation to one side for the time being, winning three straight games. Cronulla also welcome back Test stars Paul Gallen and Luke Lewis from injury.
Key: This is one of Michael Maguire’s biggest tests since returning to the NRL as a head coach. How he handles the group while Te’o’s name remains in the headlines for the wrong reasons will determine whether or not the Bunnies can continue their terrific start to the year.
SHARKS: Michael Gordon, Sosaia Feki, Ben Pomeroy, Jonathan Wright, Beau Ryan, Todd Carney, Jeff Robson, Andrew Fifita, John Morris, Ben Ross, Luke Lewis, Wade Graham, Paul Gallen. Interchange: Chris Heighington, Jayson Bukuya, Isaac De Gois, Anthony Tupou, Tyrone Peachey, Sam Tagatese (two to be omitted).
RABBITOHS: Greg Inglis, Nathan Merritt, Beau Champion, Dylan Walker, Bryson Goodwin, John Sutton, Adam Reynolds, George Burgess, Issac Luke, Roy Asotasi, Chris McQueen, Ben Te’o, Sam Burgess. Interchange: Nathan Peats, Jason Clark, Ben Lowe, Jeff Lima, Dave Tyrrell (one to be omitted).