30th Annual Charity Shield match - South Sydney Rabbitohs vs St George Illawarra Dragons
Souths regained the Charity Shield in front of 19,630 fans with a 28-10 win against the St George IIlawarra Dragons at ANZ Stadium on Friday night. Photos by Brendan Esposito. Selected images available from www.fairfaxsyndication.com Follow us at http://twitter.com/photosSMH Photo: Brendan Esposito
1.Souths hit the ground running
South Sydney looked like a team ready for finals footy already. It is hard to read too much into trial form but Souths looked crisp and, most importantly, cohesive. They looked like a team that were familiar with their systems. And with Greg Inglis fit and firing behind a monster forward pack they look like they will better their preliminary final appearance of last year. For the Dragons, they seemed like a team needing a hit-out, working on combinations. Passes just missed their targets and players were crowding into similar holes with the ball. They weren't too far away and will be much improved before their round-one clash with Melbourne.
2. Slow deal on Beale
One eye on the tryline ... Issac Luke. Photo: Brendan Esposito
Darius Boyd he isn't, yet, but Gerard Beale showed enough to indicate that he has all the attributes to be the Dragons' long-term No.1. The former Bronco was St George Illawarra's highest-profile recruit and he showed glimpses of good touches. While some of his passes went to ground, his ability to catch and pass and become an important link player gives the Dragons a much needed attacking option to ease the pressure on halves Jamie Soward and Nathan Fien. Coach Steve Price has moved Soward back to the left side of the field, where he was instrumental in guiding the Dragons to premiership success in 2010, whereas Fien spent most of the game on the right-hand side. Trent Merrin will fill Dean Young's vacant lock forward position, with the NSW prop playing as a ball-playing option in the middle of the field.
3. Controlling Reynolds is the key
Forget Greg Inglis, Sam Burgess or Issac Luke, halfback Adam Reynolds has emerged as South Sydney's most important player. While Reynolds might not grab the headlines, it is what he does off the ball which makes him so valuable. He is their chief organiser and allows the likes of Inglis and John Sutton to focus on their running game. It's no secret that Sutton and Inglis had career-best seasons last year with Reynolds taking plenty of the attention away from the duo. His deft kicking takes the strain off his big forwards and gives them a handy breather when needed. If he is in-form mid-season and Souths are riding high, he will come into NSW calculations.
4. Michael Maguire is ruthless
Just a week after dumping star recruit Ben Te'o to NSW Cup, veteran winger Nathan Merritt was left out of the Charity Shield for not meeting team standards. Coach Maguire has shown he has lofty expectations of his charges and reputations won't matter should they not follow his lead. While Te'o and Merritt were omitted for off-field indiscretions, captain Michael Crocker also felt Maguire's wrath after starting the match from the interchange bench after a poor showing in South Sydney's first trial against Newcastle. Merritt is expected to play for North Sydney on Saturday and may face an extended stint out of the top grade following the strong performance of his replacement Bryson Goodwin.
5. Video ref ruling a winner
The on-field referee being forced to make a decision before sending a possible try to the video referee to review will be a winner and reduce endless amounts of replays. The initiative, introduced by new referees' boss Daniel Anderson, came into play when Bryson Goodwin scored the first try in the 10th minute. Controlling referee Adam Devcich indicated a try before sending the ruling to video referees Steve Clark and Luke Patten, who deemed Devcich's decision correct.