League: Rabbitohs retain spot at top of NRL ladder

Jeff Lima of the Rabbitohs during the round 14 NRL match against the Titans. Photo / Getty Images
Jeff Lima of the Rabbitohs during the round 14 NRL match against the Titans. Photo / Getty Images

South Sydney cemented their spot at the top of the NRL ladder with an entertaining 30-24 win over in-form Gold Coast Titans in Cairns yesterday.

The Rabbitohs, who trailed 18-12 during the first half, were thankful for a brilliant try-saving tackle by Greg Inglis on cousin Albert Kelly with just three minutes left.

With seven of the last eight games between the Rabbitohs and Titans decided by eight points or less, it was no surprise to see a close affair.

The match was an end-to-end treat for the 16,000-strong crowd, enjoying their first NRL game in the far north Queensland city since 2003.

The early signs looked ominous for the Titans when Greg Inglis crashed his way over from close range to score his 12th try of the season after 10 minutes.

However, the visitors' spirits were boosted when Sam Burgess, back from a one-game ban for a crusher tackle, twice dropped the ball while stretching for the tryline.

The Titans took full advantage to score twice in the space of three minutes.

First, the impressive Aidan Sezer produced a deft kick for the flying Kevin Gordon to touch down in the left corner, and then Greg Bird put halfback Kelly through a huge gap in the Rabbitohs' defence.

The Rabbitohs hit back themselves in the 30th minute, Issac Luke crossing for the first time this season after beating Nate Myles to an Adam Reynolds grubber.

Once again the Titans responded in style, fullback William Zillman bursting through the line at speed and beating Inglis' desperate last-ditch tackle to dive over.

The Rabbitohs then produced a try-of-the-season contender with the last play of the first stanza to tie the score at 18-18 at the break.

The ball passed through eight sets of hands before Dylan Walker collected a Reynolds cross-field kick to touch down.

The Titans paid the price for a poor start to the second half and repeated errors down their own end, with a rampaging Roy Asotasi and Ben Te'o both scoring to extend the Rabbitohs' lead to 30-18 after 57 minutes.

Gold Coast hit back once again when Kelly crossed for his 10th try in 13 games this season after a neat break and inside-pass from winger Anthony Don, Sezer's conversion getting them within six points.

But Inglis' heroics ensured that was as close as they got.

Star fullback Billy Slater steered the Storm to a 16-14 come-from-behind win over Newcastle in Melbourne.

The victory was Melbourne's third straight and the Knights' fourth successive loss, leaving them outside the top eight.

Newcastle were well positioned for an upset with a 14-10 lead at halftime thanks to a brace of tries by winger Joey Leilua.

But Ryan Hoffman and Slater combined with 11 minutes left to tie the match before Storm skipper Cameron Smith converted to give his team the lead for the first time.

NSW State of Origin star Hoffman was able to get a ball out the back of a tackle and fullback Slater stepped around his Queensland teammate Darius Boyd to score between the posts.

The Storm lacked their usual finishing polish, with gun Queensland halfback Cooper Cronk rested. His replacement, Brett Finch, was unable to make an impact.

Rabbitohs 30
Titans 24

Storm 16
Knights 14

- AAP

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