Dragons’ Flanagan era starts with Charity Shield loss

Jasper Bruce |

Jacob Gagai  is poised for a long-awaited debut when South Sydney travel to Las Vegas.
Jacob Gagai is poised for a long-awaited debut when South Sydney travel to Las Vegas.

St George Illawarra’s Shane Flanagan era is off to a disappointing start as undermanned South Sydney ran out 28-6 winners in the Charity Shield.

Some 8827 fans flocked to Jubilee Stadium on Saturday to see the new dawn breaking but they’d have left certain the Dragons under Flanagan are a work in progress.

His side started at near full-strength but found only one try, gift-wrapped by a rival error, against a Souths outfit missing Latrell Mitchell, Cody Walker, Jack Wighton, Campbell Graham and Damien Cook.

After a defensively solid start, the Dragons buckled late as stars progressively went to the bench, leaking three tries in the last 18 minutes to fall well behind.

“When we had our best team on in the first half, I thought it was a good hit-out,” Flanagan said.

“The second half probably just showed us where we are with our young kids. They’re not up to it just as of yet.

“Bit clunky from both (sides). I thought first half, we’ll give it a tick, second half, we’ll give it a cross.”

The Rabbitohs, meanwhile, head to Las Vegas next week with a spring in their step ahead of their season opener. 

“It’s a good start,” Souths coach Jason Demetriou said of the win.

“You know it’s not going to be perfect, but you want to see (the team) going after the things that we said we value. I saw that tonight.”

Braidon Burns.
The Rabbitohs celebrate after scoring 22 unanswered second-half points to see off the Dragons. (Steven Markham/AAP PHOTOS)

Following Junior Amone’s off-season axing, Kyle Flanagan had a solid if unremarkable club debut at five-eighth for St George Illawarra.

He put on a show-and-go and threatened to breach the line at close range early in the second half but that was as close as he came to inspiring points.

Back spasms prevented Zac Lomax from having any time at fullback as uncertainty remains about his position for 2024.

Lomax spent the first half at wing before shifting to centre and then earning an early mark.

South Sydney’s Lachlan Ilias, still looking to affirm his credentials as an elite-level halfback, sent two passes to the deck either side of halftime.

The first bounced into Mikaele Ravalawa’s hands for the Dragons’ only try as the seconds ticked down to the main break.

It came after a similar error gave the Rabbitohs the first points of the game 36 minutes in.

Ilias’ hit dislodged the ball from Tyrell Sloan’s grasp and straight into that of Jacob Host.

The game in the balance after the break, the Rabbitohs’ power in the middle proved decisive.

Cam Murray and Sean Keppie, excellent on club debut with 156 metres, came up with a pair of offloads that handed Braidon Burns a try on return to Souths.

Davvy Moale barged over just after the drinks break and the Rabbitohs were on their way.

Earlier, they confirmed would-be Maori representative Jacob Gagai had been permitted to serve his one-match ban in the All Stars match so will be free for Las Vegas.

Rated a star of the future, forward Tallis Duncan could face scrutiny for that game against Manly after going on report for up-ending Ben Murdoch-Masila.