Four months after their drought-breaking premiership win, St George Illawarra have returned to the scene of their triumph to thump South Sydney 32-10 in the Charity Shield at ANZ Stadium. Despite missing up to half a dozen regulars, the Dragons were too fast, too strong and too smart for a disappointing Rabbitohs outfit. The Red V sent a strong message to rival clubs that they will again be up there in 2011 with a resounding six tries to two victory before 19,267 fans. It was St George Illawarra’s first Charity Shield win since 2007 and the perfect tune-up for their World Club Challenge showdown with Wigan in England on February 27. Both sides went into the biggest of the pre-season trial matches severely under-strength following a string of withdrawals prior to kick off. The Rabbitohs were without star off-season recruit Greg Inglis, Kiwi international Issac Luke and Sam Burgess while the Dragons’ absentees included Jamie Soward, Ben Hornby, Dean Young and Brett Morris. One of the stars who did play – Souths half-back Chris Sandow – laid on the first try just six minutes in. His cut-out pass eluded two players and put young winger Kane Morgan one-on-one with the experienced Jason Nightingale. Morgan did well to wrong-foot his opposite and dive over in the corner. It was another unknown who soon has the Dragons back level. Jack Bosden powered through two defenders on halfway and found Bronx Goodwin looming on his inside to complete the journey to the line. Goodwin converted and the premiers, despite being second best in the early exchanges, led 6-4. Bosden’s night got even better eight minutes out from half-time when he charged at the line and planted the ball down just short before momentum shoved him into the in-goal for a terrific solo try. The Dragons extended their lead with a third try just before the break, Matt Cooper’s inside pass putting Goodwin into a large hole as the Souths’ defence clocked off. Down 18-4 the Rabbitohs needed to be first to score after the break and they duly delivered. Centre Dylan Farrell was allowed to leap for Sandow’s crossfield kick uncontested and came down over the line with hardly a hand on him. Sandow’s conversion narrowed the gap to eight. But when Darius Boyd surged over in the corner in the 57th minutes, St George Illawarra were back in control and heading towards a comfortable win. Further tries to Peni Tagive and Michael Greenfield closed out a solid opening night for the premiers. Peter Cronin, the son of Parramatta legend Mick, came on in the second half and was solid throughout while new signing Adam Cuthbertson displayed some nice touches. Winger Goodwin contributed 16 points through two tries and four goals. But it was Bosden’s display that stood above all others. Souths were extremely disappointing and will be counting the days until the return of their marquee players.

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