South Sydney defeated Cronulla 38-12 to go to their sixth consecutive qualifying final. South Sydney was considered an easy club to beat after their coach and captain from the previous season left.
In their must-win final against the Sharks, the Rabbitohs had little opposition. They scored six tries to force a replay with Penrith, which they lost by two points but won the 2021 championship. There wasn’t much of a battle in the final, which Penrith lost by only two points.
After a high tackle penalty gave Souths field position, experienced prop Mark Nicholls sprinted past Toby Rudolph to catch a ball from hooker Damien Cook and score.
The Sharks failed to frighten anybody. Souths made blunders when Cronulla had the ball, but the red and green wall stopped them.
Cronulla was less obvious twenty minutes later. While their larger companions took the most of the enemy’s attacks, their smaller pals remained strong. With a sneak under Wade Graham’s ribs and a bootlaces tackle, Lachlan Ilias, who was stepping in for Adam Reynolds, prevented a score.
South Sydney’s first-year head coach, Jason Demetriou, has prioritized attack this season. Cody Walker and Cameron Murray were frequently arguing with one another. Damien Cook threw Latrell Mitchell to the sideline, but despite being surrounded by five defenders, he was able to throw an inside pass.
Souths exploited every error made by Cronulla. Mitchell tried to get the ball on his right foot to deny the Sharks from leaving their end zone, but he collapsed before he could.
The Rabbitohs won the ruck, but they failed to charge through the channel as expected. Instead, they were overly broad. They were mistaken twice before they realized it. Exactly. To make place for Taane Milne, Souths passed past Walker and Ilias. He held the ball in the air with seven hands before tapping it twice.
Mitchell fumbled in contact while having two unblocked opponents outside. This occurred after Cody Walker recovered a fumble and ran it down the field. After Campbell Graham failed, Cameron Murray decided to go out on his own. When his squad had an additional player, the Bunnies’ captain scored 18 points.
After halftime, Briton Nikora scored and Nicho Hynes added the extra point to give his team a 12-point advantage. Ilias’ catch-and-release goal made the score 24-6. There was no possibility for the opposing team to return.
South Sydney has won three consecutive games at the brand-new Sydney Football Stadium. When the Sharks were trying to win the game, winger Ronaldo Mulitalo intercepted Mitchell’s long, floating throw and sprinted 90 yards for a tying score.
Cody Walker scored Souths’ opening goal in the 61st minute. Walker and Mitchell sent the ball to Taane Milne, who scored his second try after receiving it from Walker and Mitchell. Rabbitohs supporters erupted after Mitchell’s sideline conversion put the score 36-12.
South Sydney comfortably won the game because to a great defense and a spectacular offense, however the game was called early due to a penalty for celebration. The Rabbitohs will face Penrith in the preliminary final after sweeping Cronulla. They might earn their 22nd league championship if they win.