Streaking Rabbitohs end Cronulla winning streak

Matt Encarnacion
Streaking Rabbitohs end Cronulla winning streak

South Sydney have stolen Cronulla's status as the hottest team in the NRL with an emphatic 22-14 victory in their top-four encounter, extending their winning streak to five games.

The Sharks entered the clash following six straight victories but were brought to a crashing halt by a relentless Rabbitohs outfit showing all the hallmarks of a premiership contender.

Despite having an equal club record four players away on State of Origin duty, each member of the Rabbitohs' forward pack cracked the 100m barrier to lay the platform for victory.

Prop Tom Burgess bagged two four-pointers, while winger Campbell Graham offered an early contender for try of the year by soaring over Sosaia Feki to give the Rabbitohs a 14-2 lead soon after halftime.

The Sharks tried valiantly to get back into the contest, and looked to be right in the contest when Rabbitohs winger Robert Jennings was sin-binned for a professional foul in the 67th minute.

But as they did for most of the night, the visitors lacked the polish at the end of their sets and had Matt Moylan also marched for a similar indiscretion not long after.

Tom Burgess then crashed over to seal the win in the 71st minute, before Sharks pair Jesse Ramien and Sione Katoa crossed in a late flurry of points.

The win forced rugby league immortal Andrew Johns to declare the Rabbitohs a title contender.

"The form they're showing tonight, they look like a genuine threat for the premiership... they are the real deal," Johns said during commentary for Channel Nine.

The defeat for the fourth-placed Sharks, who are in danger of slipping towards the bottom of the eight by the end of the round, comes after star Josh Dugan was ruled out for up to a month with a leg injury.

It is the third time this year Dugan has been sidelined with injury.

A Reynolds penalty goal cancelled out a Sharks two-pointer early, but the hosts went the length of the field in the return set and ended in Tom Burgess storming over.

The Sharks, who lost Wade Graham for the match after his head accidentally hit Sam Burgess' knee in the 20th minute, did well to only concede just another two points before halftime.

The Rabbitohs also lost youngster Braidon Burns to a knee injury midway through the first half.