The Rabbitohs have claimed back-to-back victories after a 78th minute try to Cameron Murray saw them pip the Bulldogs 20-16 at ANZ Stadium in front of over 32,000 fans in the annual Good Friday encounter.
The traditional Good Friday clash between the Rabbitohs and Bulldogs has always produced and today's game was no exception. Whilst both sides were guilty of ill-discipline, entertainment was not lacking as two tries to Souths in the final six minutes ensured a thrilling finish.
There were early casualties for both sides with Moses Mbye and Robert Jennings taken off the field in the 5th minute after a sickening collision. Mbye was in scintillating form in last weekend's win over Penrith, yet Canterbury responded in the next set to prove that they could still score without the fullback. Jeremy Marshall-King bombed on the last for Brett Morris who soared above the Rabbitohs defenders to back it back to brother Josh Morris who would cross over out wide. In what turned out to be a rare occasion for the Bulldogs in the first half, a 9th minute penalty saw Canterbury extend their lead to eight. South Sydney were looking lethargic in attack in a contrasting performance to that produced a week earlier in their resounding 34-6 win over Manly.
The Bulldogs, on the other hand, continued to fire with William Hopoate exploring the short side before linking with Brett Morris who again found twin Josh in support to score an early double. In a rugby league first for this writer, Kieran Foran proceeded to miss the conversion from right in front by sending it under the posts. Bulldogs fans were not laughing moments later, however, when a controversial try to Rabbitohs centre Greg Inglis was awarded. Canterbury were on the wrong side of a 9-3 penalty count and after skipper Josh Jackson was called over by referee Ben Cummins to warn the captain of the ramifications of future ill-discipline.
Cummins continued to signal that play could resume despite the fact that Jackson was not back in his spot in right centre having had to come over the other side of the field to chat to Cummins. Souths spread it towards the vacant spot where Jackson would be defending and despite his best efforts he was unable to stop a rampaging Inglis from crashing over. Hilarity ensued right before the break as Foran was faced with a similar kick to the one he missed in the 23rd minute. Yet, to his credit, the halfback sent it over to give the Dogs a 14-6 lead at half time.
A major reason for Canterbury's lead at the break was their ball handling, with Dean Pay's men only making one mistake in the opening half. They had already tripled that number after six minutes in the second forty. Fortunately, South Sydney were hardly threatening in attack.
All the possession finally led to points in the 52nd minute when a well-executed sweeping play sent Braidon Burns flying over in the corner. An penalty against Souths for offside in the 57th minute saw the Bulldogs push six points ahead yet fundamental errors continued to deny them the chance to put the game away.
The Rabbitohs made the Bulldogs pay in the 74th minute when an Adam Doueihi grubber was grounded by Hymel Hunt to reduce the deficit to just two. Then, in a stunning finish, South Sydney marched up field and John Sutton burst through flimsy Canterbury defence to put Cameron Murray over with two minutes remaining. As a result, despite a mediocre first half display, the Rabbitohs stole a 20-16 victory over a Bulldogs outfit which rarely threatened in the second forty.
Next week the Rabbitohs take on the currently undefeated Dragons at Jubilee Oval on Friday night. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs travel to Canberra the night prior to battle the Raiders.