Ilias hooked as Dragons embarrass Souths

·3-min read

South Sydney coach Jason Demetriou insists rookie halfback Lachlan Ilias won't be scarred by being hooked during a horror first half in the Rabbitohs' 32-12 flogging from St George Illawarra.

In easily their worst performance of the year on Thursday, the Rabbitohs trailed 32-0 at halftime with Ilias benched after just 28 minutes.

Ilias dropped the opening kick off but could hardly be blamed after that, as Souths had no ball in good territory and missed tackles across the park.

But asked if it would be hard for the 22-year-old to rebound from being benched, Demetriou was adamant Ilias would be fine and would start the next round against Parramatta, with Latrell Mitchell returning at fullback.

"It's part of the learning," Demetriou said.

"He's not the first bloke to have a bad day at the office. He wasn't on his own.

"He's resilient, he has good temperament. He will learn from that."

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

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

The win lifted the Dragons back into the top eight for the first time since round two, helping them celebrate Andrew McCullough's 300th game in style.

And while Souths managed a minor fightback in the second half, it did little to paper over the cracks of a team who have suffered from inconsistency all year.

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

The hosts' first try set the tone for the night, when Lomax hauled in a Hunt kick and stepped his way through the defence and put his halfback over.

Hunt had a hand in another try when he went to the line and put Jack de Belin through some poor defence, while he also kicked for Moses Suli to set up another four-pointer.

Fullback Cody Ramsey claimed a try in the first-half rush, while Ravalawa was the beneficiary of a Lomax flick pass when he twice brushed off Alex Johnston in the one play.

Even Cameron Murray was not immune to the defensive errors, beaten by Amone when the Dragons' five-eighth skipped around him and put Ravalawa across.

"I was surprised at the scoreline," Dragons coach Anthony Griffin said.

"In the NRL you don't ever expect to lead 32-0 at halftime. But you could feel it all week in the way we prepared.

"We showed a lot of character after last week was one of our worst performances of the season."

About the only thing more lacklustre than the Rabbitohs' defence was the WIN Stadium security, who allowed a pitch invader to stay on field for a full minute.

The man seemingly became bored as he jogged up and down the field, before eventually being stopped by Blake Lawrie with security only walking to him.

The stoppage at least briefly sprung the Rabbitohs into action, with Damien Cook and Murray both crossing shortly after.

An intercept from Hunt then halted the momentum and capped a superb night for the Dally M leader.

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