South Sydney has won a record-breaking seventh straight Charity Shield at Mudgee on Saturday night, the Bunnies starting both halves brilliantly in a 36-24 victory over St George Illawarra.
Wing sensation Corey Allan bagged a hat-trick in the try-a-thon at Glen Willow, but the rookie flier is unlikely to earn a start in Wayne Bennett's team for round one of the NRL season against defending premiers the Roosters despite being a key ingredient in Souths extending a shield winning streak that started with a 28-10 victory over the Dragons at ANZ Stadium in 2013.
"I don't see him getting a start in round one," Bennett said of Allan post game at Mudgee.
"It all depends on what Greg (Inglis) does, but right now I don't see him getting a start.
"He's not really a winger, but that's where he played tonight. He's got a couple of good fullbacks in front of him. I don't think he'll be playing initially. Nobody doubts he's got ability, it's just a matter of maturity now."
That ability was on show early when, alongside a four-pointer from right-winger Campbell Graham, Allen showed his class in finishing a lovely Souths movement to help lift the Rabbitohs to a 12-0 lead after six minutes.
The Dragons worked their way back into the contest though, and ultimately led 18-16 at the break.
But another whirlwind opening to the new half rocketed Bennett's Bunnies into a near unassailable position, Cody Walker and Cameron Murray scoring within four minutes of the opening kick-off to the second half to hand Souths a 10-point advantage.
That lead was extended to 32-18 soon after when Allen picked up his third, and despite the Dragons again working their way back into the contest it was too little too late.
Tariq Sims and Bayley Sironen both got on the score sheet late for their respective sides but those four-pointers were of little consequence to the result, Souths running out 12-point winners in the highest scoring Charity Shield in the annual clash's 36-year history.
NSW and Australian rake Damien Cook was tremendous for the Rabbitohs, while Cameron Murray made his mark on the lock position, powering through a mountain of work in the middle of the field.
... no one’s changed so now it is about knuckling down and doing what we have got to doDragons coach Paul McGregor.
The Dragons used the clash as a chance to give its new-look spine - skipper Gareth Widdop at fullback, new recruit Corey Norman at five-eighth, halfback Ben Hunt and hooker Cam McInness - a chance to mesh and by and large they did, Norman in particular looking sharp down the Dragons' left edge.
But how the St George-Illawarra mentor then works super sub Matt Dufty into the equation remains the question.
The livewire No.1 saw limited minutes at the back end of the game, playing at fullback.
"Tonight gave me a little bit of clarity of where I am going to go next week. To back that up I will watch a lot of footage and talk to my leaders and other coaches," Dragons coach Paul McGregor said.
The Dragons were forced into some late changes with the forced withdrawal of Jack de Belin, and McGregor said he'd use the next couple of weeks before round one to finalise combinations.
"I think we showed that last year, at the back end of the year with guys missing," McGrgeor said. "We didn’t have Paul Vaughan for the finals series and we did alright without him, we lost Gareth [Widdop] going into the second final and we were up 8-2 until we lost Tariq [Sims], and after we lost Tariq we still only got beaten by a field goal.
"The same players are still here, no one’s changed so now it is about knuckling down and doing what we have got to do. I think the resilience and the learnings from last year are pretty important going into this year."