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Dragons fall to Rabbitohs in Charity Shield

The Dragons were unable to regain the Charity Shield in their opening hit-out of 2024 with the Rabbitohs running out 28-6 victors at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.

In his first game at the helm, head coach Shane Flanagan opted to play each of the 28 players named in the squad with a collection of youngsters earning a valuable run.

An intense but scrappy opening culminated with both sides trading blows to end the first half level at 6-6 before a second half shut out paved the way for the Rabbitohs to retain the Charity Shield.

Off-season recruit Tom Eisenhuth went within inches of diving over for the contest’s opening points off a final-tackle, short-side chip but was ultimately denied by a trio of Rabbitohs cover defenders.

It took just moments for the Red V to storm back onto the attack however courtesy of a determined Jack Bird charge back against the grain which saw the robust centre burst into the backfield before being dragged down by another cover effort.

A penalty into a repeat set saw the Rabbitohs embark on their first foray into attacking ball only for several waves of resolute Dragons defence to come up trumps as points eluded the match’s opening quarter.

Flanagan looked to his interchange bench as the second quarter came with the likes of Michael Molo, Ben Murdoch-Masila, and Viliami Fifita inserted into the action.

Eisenhuth once again came close to a four-pointer off a Ben Hunt kick early in the second quarter pouring through to jostle for a loose bomb that was allowed to bounce short of the Rabbitohs’ goal-line but he came up short.

Soon after, Tyrell Sloan found himself in the clear off a nifty Hunt inside ball and appeared destined to lay a try on only for his offload to whiz by the oncoming support.

Off a set restart, a fifth-tackle Fifita offload nearly popped up into the arms of Sloan but ultimately went the ground as the wait for the clash’s opening points persisted.

Instead, it was Rabbitohs back rower Jacob Host who scooped up a Dragons error and dived over to score just shy of the break with Dean Hawkins adding the extra two to make it 6-0.

Not to be outdone, a flying Mikaele Ravalawa pounced on a Rabbitohs error and raced 40 metres downfield to dive over behind the sticks and tie proceedings at six-apiece in what proved the final play of the opening half.

The second half saw a largely new-look Dragons outfit trot onto the pitch with the likes of Jesse Marschke, Connor Muhleisen, Dylan Egan and Christian Tuipulotu earning their first taste of action for the year.

A string of offloads culminating in a right-side shift saw the Rabbitohs strip the Dragons for numbers and carve out a runway for Braidon Burns to dive over in the corner as they jumped back out to a six-point advantage.

Ryan Couchman, Savelio Tamale, Toby Couchman and Alec Tuitavake also took the field for the Red V prior to the conclusion of the penultimate quarter with Sione Finau, Mathew Feagai, Max Feagai and Jonah Glover joining them for the final frame.

The Rabbitohs extended their lead through Davvy Moale who powered his way over under the posts to make it 18-6 with 18 minutes to play.

Burns nabbed a second late off a Hawkins cut-out to extend the Rabbitohs’ lead before they capped the win off with a Richard Kennar try on the stroke of full-time.

Acknowledgement of Country

St George Illawarra Dragons respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, where our games are played, our programs are conducted and in the communities we support.

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