Sharks 0 Rabbitohs 18
Powerhouse: Tom Burgess carries the ball into traffic. Photo: Getty Images
With 10 of the biggest names unavailable for Croulla and South Sydney, it was the stars of tomorrow and a soon to be star of yesterday that did the damage for the Rabbitohs in their 18-0 win over Cronulla on Monday night.
It wasn't pretty, but tries to Kirisome Auva'a, Cameron McInnes and Sam Burgess were enough for South Sydney to topple the hapless Sharks in front of a crowd 8137 at Remondis Stadium.
Siosaia Vave can't find a way through the rigid Souths defence. Photo: Getty Images
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Tries||0||Tries||3||Players||Burgess, Auva'a, McInnes|
|Players||Conversions||0||Conversions||2||Players||Reynolds 2/3 (66%)|
|Players||Penalty goals||0||Penalty goals||1||Players||Reynolds 1/1 (100%)|
|Players||Field goals||0||Field goals||0||Players|
In what was meant to be a celebration of hooker John Morris' 300th first grade game, it was the absence of close to a thousand games of experience that determined the outcome of the match.
With Paul Gallen and Luke Lewis away on Origin duty with the Blues and Andrew Fifita, Todd Carney, Beau Ryan and Anthony Tupou on the sidelines through injury, the Sharks were always at long odds to upset the Rabbitohs.
Even with Greg Inglis, Ben Te'o and Chris McQueen away with the Maroons and Issac Luke out injured, South Sydney did enough to claim the win and move back into the top eight.
Cronulla had never been held scoreless by South Sydney in 81 games against the Rabbitohs, but that record ended in the three tries to nil loss on Monday.
It had been three years since Cronulla were last held to zero on home soil, ironically also an 18-0 loss to Newcastle in 2011.
The defeat leaves Cronulla glued to the bottom of the ladder on four points with just two wins from their first 11 games of the season.
South Sydney's win sees them move into seventh position on 12 points behind the Roosters on points differential, equal with the Broncos, Tigers and Titans.
It was a short ball from Reynolds to Burgess, who steamrolled Jeff Robson on his way to the tryline, that paved the way for the first points of the night.
The Rabbitohs were denied a try by the video referee on the stroke of half time, but a penalty goal to Reynolds gave the visitors an 8-0 lead at the break.
Ricky Leutele suffered a knee injury in the first half and returned to the paddock for the second half, albeit for 12 minutes, succumbing to a medial strain in his right knee.
It came after David Fifita injured himself in the warm up and was ruled out of the contest at the 11th hour.
Things went from bad to worse a few minutes later when a Joel Reddy offload put Dylan Walker into space, drawing fullback Michael Gordon to put centre partner Kirisome Auva'a in for a try against his former club.
However a missed sideline conversion attempt from Reynolds kept Cronulla in the match at 12-0 with 24 minutes remaining.
But interchange hooker Cameron McInnes sealed the deal in the 63rd minute when he crashed over from close range for the first try of his career, stretching South Sydney's advantage to 18 points.
South Sydney had multiple sets to defend on their own line in the final minutes but held strong to keep their opposition scoreless.
They take on the Dragons at ANZ Stadium next Monday night while the Sharks will enjoy the week off with the bye.