Dragons spoil Latrell Mitchell’s South Sydney return

Jasper Bruce |

The Rabbitohs have again fallen short, losing 28-14 to the Dragons.
The Rabbitohs have again fallen short, losing 28-14 to the Dragons.

Latrell Mitchell’s return from suspension has failed to snap South Sydney out of their funk as the beleaguered Rabbitohs fell 28-14 to St George Illawarra.

Mitchell’s comeback from a three-game ban for dangerous contact promised a welcome boost for last-placed Souths, who have sacked coach Jason Demetriou and are battling a league-worst injury crisis.

With two tries to his name, the superstar fullback was involved in the Rabbitohs’ best attacking moments at a rainy Jubilee Oval on Saturday night.

But he had his fair share of brain-snaps as Souths fell to an eighth loss from nine games this season.

“He wasn’t too bad,” interim coach Ben Hornby said of Mitchell’s return.

“He had some nice moments but there were a couple of kicks he probably didn’t clean up. He’ll be better for the run.”

Rabbitohs players celebrate Izaac Thompson's second-half try.
Latrell Mitchell and teammates celebrate Izaac Thompson’s second-half try for the Rabbitohs. (Steven Markham/AAP PHOTOS)

Mitchell and Cody Walker reprised their once-potent combination on the left edge for the Rabbitohs’ first try, the fullback sliding through to plant down the 200-gamer’s grubber kick.

The Rabbitohs went into halftime down 12-6, but shortly after the break Mitchell’s cut-out pass to Izaac Thompson kept the visitors in touch.

When Thompson’s kick ricocheted his way in the final minutes, Mitchell had his second try, though the game was out of the Rabbitohs’ reach by then.

At other times, Mitchell looked every bit a man who had spent a month on the sidelines, and was booed by the meagre crowd of 7517 when he ran the ball.

As the final 10 minutes approached, Mitchell attempted an offload in the red zone but passed the ball straight to Dragons captain Ben Hunt – stifling the Rabbitohs’ momentum as they trailed 22-10.

Having almost allowed the Dragons kick-chase to sneak up on him in the first half, Mitchell failed to defuse a Tyrell Sloan grubber kick with seven minutes to play, instead fumbling the ball to Jack De Belin.

The forward touched down to confirm the hot-and-cold Dragons would go into their bye with five wins from 10 games under Shane Flanagan.

“We spoke about it during the week, it was a really big game for us,” Flanagan said.

“Souths had a lot to play for, Latrell coming back, Cody’s 200th. I’m really pleased to get that (win) going into the bye.”

The off-contract Sloan continued his solid 2024 and was the Dragons’ most dangerous man with the ball.

Tyrell Sloan.
Tyrell Sloan was a constant threat for St George Illawarra. (Steven Markham/AAP PHOTOS)

He put on a double-pump to fool Jack Wighton and send Jack Bird over in the first half, and could have had another try assist before the break had Mikaele Ravalawa been able to handle his pass down the left side.

“He’s got a lot of talent, we’ve just got to work hard in the other areas, mainly defensively,” Flanagan said.

The result confirms South Sydney will finish the weekend at the bottom of the ladder as they continue their search for a first win under Hornby.

“There’s still a lot of effort but we’re just not winning those moments,” Hornby said.

“When there’s a ball to be caught or a kick to be defused or a tackle to be made, at the moment we’re just not quite nailing. 

“It’s an improved performance but we just want to win.”