Latrell Mitchell in firing line as NRL fans erupt over Sharks incident

The head-scratching moment set the internet alight on Saturday night.

Rabbitohs fullback Latrell Mitchell was burned by Sharks winger Sione Katoa on Saturday night. Pic: Getty/NRL
Rabbitohs fullback Latrell Mitchell was burned by Sharks winger Sione Katoa on Saturday night. Pic: Getty/NRL

South Sydney's anticipated NRL finals charge hit a wall on Saturday night as Cronulla snapped a three-game losing streak to help cement their own spot in the top eight. The 26-16 loss to the Sharks was a brutal reality check for the Rabbitohs and their star fullback, Latrell Mitchell, who endured a frustrating evening in just his second game back from a calf injury.

Mitchell was backed to spark the Rabbitohs' surge towards finals footy but the superstar fullback - like the majority of his teammates - failed to get going in Perth as the Sharks ran riot. Mitchell turned heads in his first game back from injury against the Tigers last week, but he was found wanting against a clinical Sharks side that won just its second game of the season against a side that began the round in the top eight.

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One passage of play summed up Mitchell's night to perfection as he was reduced to a bystander when Sharks speedster Sione Katoa ran into space down the right wing and stood up the Rabbitohs fullback with ease. Latrell was the last line of defence as Katoa raced towards the tryline, but was left absolutely bamboozled by the footwork of the Cronulla winger.

Latrell Mitchell incident leaves fans in disbelief

Katoa feigned to push off his left foot and take on Mitchell down the outside, before producing a wicked step back off the left to leave the Bunnies No.1 completely flat-footed. The incident sent social media into meltdown, with many fans were left in awe of the footwork from the Sharks winger, while others called out Mitchell for giving up on the play and being beaten in defence so easily.

Rabbitohs' finals hopes hang in the balance

It summed up a night to forget for Mitchell, who also passed into touch instead of finding a teammate and generally struggled to get his sloppy side going all night. The Rabbitohs' attack didn't click into gear until the final 20 minutes when they scored three tries in 10 minutes to set up a grandstand finish.

The late surge proved in vain though, with the loss leaving the Rabbitohs precariously placed in eighth spot on the ladder. "By the time we showed desperation, it was too little too late and our discipline let us down in terms of any chance of getting back into the game," Souths coach Jason Demetriou said. "Our discipline killed us tonight, both with the ball and with the 11-4 penalty count."

Seen here, Rabbitoh coach Jason Demetriou.
Jason Demetriou's Rabbitohs side are currently eighth and locked in a fierce battle to secure NRL finals footy. Pic: Getty

Demetriou suggested his side's season was at a crossroads and they had to work even harder now as a playing group to earn their spot in a tightly congested race for finals footy. Souths could also lose prop George Burgess to suspension after he went to the sin bin for the final four minutes for making shoulder contact with Tom Hazelton's head.

The Rabbitohs coach played down an injury to fellow prop Jai Arrow, who left the match with back spasms in the second half. The Bunnies coach told reporters after the game he didn't think the issue with Arrow was "anything major".

Cronulla's win came off the back of a sizzling first half that saw Katoa and fellow winger Mawene Hiroti crossed for a 14-0 half-time lead. Sharks halfback Nicho Hynes showed glimpses of his Dally M-winning best, sending the cut-out pass that led to Katoa's try and extending the lead to 20 points with a ball that put Braydon Trindall into space. Trindall pounced on the loose footy to confirm a tryscoring double in the second half, and likely at least another week replacing veteran Matt Moylan at five-eighth.

with AAP

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