South Sydney have maintained their unbeaten start to the NRL season, with Cody Walker inspiring them to 28-20 win over a spirited Gold Coast.
The Rabbitohs’ win allowed them to leapfrog the Sharks and Wests Tigers — the latter lost to the Bulldogs earlier on Sunday — on the ladder.
Walker set up three of his side’s four tries on Sunday evening at the Olympic stadium, as the Rabbitohs moved into second — one of only two sides along with Melbourne to start the year 3-0.
Even without talismanic skipper Greg Inglis and after losing centre Braidon Burns to a hamstring injury in the first half, the Rabbitohs outlasted a Titans side who showed plenty of fight.
Garth Brennan’s side had a chance to win it in the final 15 minutes after tries to Brian Kelly and Anthony Don took them to within four points.
Rabbitohs v Titans summary
The Rabbitohs led 24-8 after Walker put in an inch-perfect chip for Campbell Graham’s second try.
The Titans set up a grandstand finish when Don scored his 68th four-pointer for the club, surpassing David Mead as the Titans’ greatest try scorer.
Gold Coast looked like they had bombed a try when Kelly flung the ball in-field five metres out. Souths Ethan Lowe gained possession, only for Don to come up with a one-on-one steal to make it 24-20.
Rabbitohs v Titans stats
But two late Adam Reynolds penalty goals sealed the result.
Earlier, South Sydney opened up a 10-0 lead after 21 minutes as halves Walker and Reynolds set up mirror-image tries for wingers Graham and Corey Allan respectively, both with harbour-bridge passes.
Rabbitohs v Titans chalkboard
The Rabbitohs were forced into a backline reshuffle when Burns went down with a hamstring complaint and, as he was limping off the field, his Titans opposite Kelly crashed over where he would have been defending.
The Titans ensured they were in the contest at halftime when Dale Copley snatched a Damien Cook pass from the air and ran 45m to score to make it 18-8.
Despite not being able to run over the top of the Rabbitohs and remaining winless, the Titans looked a vastly improved outfit, even without key trio Ash Taylor, Tyrone Roberts and Nathan Peats.
Struggling Bulldogs stop Tigers’ winning run
Canterbury have celebrated the contract extension of coach Dean Pay by holding off a second-half comeback from the Wests Tigers to claim a 22-8 victory.
Eyebrows were raised when the Bulldogs opted to hand Pay another 12 months on Friday, despite getting off to their worst NRL start in almost 50 years.
However Pay’s men justified the club’s decision — at least for a week — by scoring four tries inside the opening hour to stun the 15,127 crowd in Campbelltown.
Led by key men Kieran Foran and Dylan Napa, as well as club debutant Nick Meaney, the Bulldogs were near flawless in a first-half ambush on Sunday.
Wests Tigers v Bulldogs summary
Foran fought through an ankle issue to score a try and set up another for Napa, who also laid one on for Adam Elliott after half-time.
But the pressure-relieving win didn’t come without a second-half scare.
Leading 22-0 with 25 minutes to go, Pay would’ve grown nervous when Tiger Mahe Fonua finished off a right-side shift.
Then the Campbelltown crowd roared to life when Luke Garner, who had overcome a shoulder injury in the first half, scored ten minutes later.
Wests Tigers v Bulldogs stats
However the Bulldogs side showed plenty of ticker to hold on and lift themselves off the bottom of the NRL ladder for a sorely-needed victory.
The Bulldogs were lucky to avoid conceding the opener when the bunker ruled an obstruction in the lead-up to Corey Thompson crossing the stripe.
They then went on to take full advantage of a fierce southerly with a three-try blitzkrieg in 12 minutes, blowing the game wide open.
Wests Tigers v Bulldogs chalkboard
First Meaney picked up a loose ball near his own goal line and ran 50 metres before Reimis Smith finished the 95-metre counter-attack.
Three minutes later Foran dragged three defenders over the line, before the veteran five-eighth put Napa over for a three-try lead just before the break.
Compounding the loss for the Tigers was a hamstring problem for Benji Marshall, who exited the game midway through the second half.
NRL 2019 ladder