St George Illawarra Dragons beat South Sydney 32-12 in Wollongong

South Sydney’s NRL season has reached its lowest point, beaten 32-12 by St George Illawarra with rookie running back Lachlan Ilias hooked during a first-half thrashing in Wollongong.

In easily their worst performances of the year, the Rabbitohs trailed 32-0 at halftime with Ilias benched by coach Jason Demetriou after just 28 minutes.

The first-half effort marked the Dragons’ best opening 40 minutes since April 2001, with Ben Hunt superb in attack and Zac Lomax much improved in last week’s loss to North Queensland.

Mikaele Ravalawa scored a brace on the right wing, while Talatau Amone easily had his best game in the first grade.

The win moved the Dragons into the top eight for the first time since the second round, helping them celebrate Andrew McCullough’s 300th game in style.

And though Souths pulled off a minor comeback midway through the second half, it did little to hide the cracks in a team that has suffered from inconsistency all year.

The Rabbitohs missed 21 tackles in the first half alone, as the Dragons kept pace with the clock for most of the first 40.

The hosts’ first try set the tone for the night, when Lomax pulled on a kick from Hunt and worked his way through the defense and put his half over the top.

Hunt had a hand on another try when he went to the line and put Jack de Belin through some poor defense, while also kicking past Moses Suli to set up another four-point shot.

Fullback Cody Ramsey claimed a try on the run in the first half, while Ravalawa was the beneficiary of a pass from Lomax when he twice passed Alex Johnston on one play.

Even Cameron Murray wasn’t immune to defensive mistakes, beaten down by Amone when the Dragons’ five-eighth parried him and put Ravalawa on the other side.

The only thing more lackluster than the Rabbitohs’ defense was stadium security, which allowed a field invader to stay on the field for a full minute.

Apparently, the man got bored as he ran up and down the field, before finally being stopped by Dragons forward Blake Lawrie and security just walking towards him.

The stoppage, at least briefly, brought the Rabbitohs into action, with Damien Cook and Murray crossing paths soon after.

But his slim chance of a comeback quickly faded when Hunt intercepted a ball down his own line, capping off a terrific night for leader Dally M.

The Rabbitohs will at least get Latrell Mitchell back in Round 16 against Parramatta, but questions hang over Ilias’ place on the team after his early bench.

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