At least both teams finished unscathed and there were no competition points on the line.
Aside from that there were few positives to take from South Sydney's 18-14 win in the annual Charity Shield clash at ANZ Stadium in front of 13421 people on Saturday. It was a far cry from the glory days of the Charity Shield which were played with a finals-like intensity.
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Players struggled as much with the heat as they did with the game's fundamentals. Simple dropped ball and confusion while in possession was the story of the day.
In fairness, a host of big guns were missing. South Sydney were without the Burgess brothers, Greg Inglis, Alex Johnston and Adam Reynolds while a hip injury meant Luke Keary was a late withdrawal. The Dragons too were without a host of stars with Josh Dugan, Tyson Frizell, Gareth Widdop and Joel Thompson sidelined. By the end of the match the teams were barely recognisable as both coaches made plenty of changes.
Spoils of victory: South Sydney players celebrate with the Charity Shield. Photo: Getty Images
South Sydney prop Nathan Brown was a rare bright spot while the Cameron McInnes/Damien Cook combination showed enough to suggest they will cover the hole left by Warriors recruit Issac Luke. Centre Hymel Hunt also impressed.
Coach Michael Maguire said the hooking role and the halves spot remained up for grabs as he said Cody Walker's inclusion was "only a matter of time".
"I was impressed with how he went," Maguire said. "He did a great job for us. He has had a great pre-season."Both [Cook and McInnes] performed in the nines and they backed it up. That's off the back of the things they've been doing in the pres-season. [They have] a lot of hunger."
Only Chris Grevsmuhl is expected to be missing from the Rabbitohs final trial against the Gold Coast.
"A lot of commitment from our young kids who put in a lot of hard work in the pre-season," Maguire said. "The reliance they showed was pleasing. Our completion rate was down to about 50 per cent."
Too strong: Benji Marshall is wrestled to the ground by Souths' Jack Gosiewski. Photo: Getty Images
Mann showed good touches as he pressed to be first-choice Dragons fullback although late handling errors cruelled his first half. Benji Marshall looked in good nick having returned from a serious ankle injury.
Play was sped up with the successful introduction of the shot clock with neither team penalised for failing to set scrums or restart from a line drop out in time with the countdown shown on the big screen. Opposing skippers John Sutton and Ben Creagh said there was little difference in the way the game was played because of the new rule. Video referee decisions were made from the NRL's new multi-million dollar bunker.
Sutton scored the Rabbitohs first try with a trademark strong carry, dragging Mtich Rein over the try line, after the Dragons were unable to repel back to back sets after four minutes.
Despite a slow start, the Dragons were able to strike back four minutes later when a desperate Jason Nightingale went full stretch to bat back a Benji Marshall grubber for Mann to score the first try to be officiated from the bunker. The four-pointer left the Dragons trailing by two at the break.
Dragons coach Paul McGregor was less than thrilled with the performance nothing that his team coming through unscathed as the only highlight.
"They looked at it as an opportunity, we looked as it as a trial," McGregor said. "We have some work to do.
"We didn't hold the bal in the first half. Cohesion wasn't there in attack. They had intent and we lacked it.
"I don't think it's concerning. It's a trial. If it keeps happening it's concerning I'm confident with our playing group.
"The Charity Shield should mean a little bit more than that."
St George Illawarra capitalised on a simple hit-up error from a scrum by Brown with interchange hooker Siliva Havili scoring from dummy half to give the Dragons a four-point lead 13 minutes into the second half. The joy was shortlived for the Dragons when Kirisome Auva'a scored three minutes later to give the Rabbitohs a two-point lead before Ed Murphy scored.