A physical clash produced a 21-14 win for the South-Sydney Rabbitohs over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. 20,424 passionate fans witnessed the battle as both teams aim to surge through the finals. The Bulldogs were looking to take 4th place on the ladder, whilst the Rabbitohs still chasing the minor premiership.
Isaac Luke was put on report in the 6th minute for kicking out of the tackle and planting his foot straight into Michael Ennis' face. This helped produce an early try to the Bulldogs in the 7th minute. Some short-side magic created a 3 on 2 advantage sending Mitch Brown over. Hodkinson converted the try, handing the Bulldogs an early 6-0 lead, helping build the Dogs' confidence going into this big clash.
The physicality of each team was prevailing through many hard-hits, producing some uncharacteristic errors for both parties - the Bulldogs especially digging right through the Rabbitohs.
A couple of classic Michael Ennis vs. The Ref arguments later resulted in the Rabbitohs deeply invading the Bulldogs' territory. A quick inside pass from Luke Keary set up the man of the moment: Mr. Sam Burgess. Adam Reynolds added the extras, making the score 6-all at the 29th minute.
The battle continued but a no-look pass from James Graham sent Sam Perrett flying down the middle of the field. Unfortunately for the Dogs, they could not capitalise as a forward pass 10m out from the line led to Rabbitohs coming up with the ball. Though, the Rabbitohs weren't any better and dropped the ball, letting the Dogs come up with it 20m out from the line.
A dummy from Michael Ennis set himself up for a 4-pointer. A quick look upstairs checked the grounding, and the Dogs were back in the lead 10-6 at the 34th minute. Hodkinson extended the lead with another pin-point kick, bringing the score to 12-6 right before half time.
The second half begun with the Dogs handing over penalties as if they were vouchers and the Souths did not waste any opportunity. A dummy from Luke Keary in the 45th minute sent Sam Burgess for his second try of the night. Reynolds once again added the 2 points; Souths levelling the score early in the second half.
Sam Burgess was found grabbing his hip and sent through the tunnels. A penalty against the Souths for having a hand on the ball caused Hodkinson to kick for goal and extended the lead 14-12 in the 54th minute.
A dangerous lift from Adam Reynolds resulted in him being put on-report and instigated a push and shove with almost every player from each team. This didn't stop the Rabbitohs, though, as Chris McQueen blitzed past all the Doggies but an ankle-tap stopped the momentum.
Time was slowly creeping away during this tug-o-war, when in the 72nd minute the Rabbitohs got a repeat set. A monster pass from Adam Reynolds set up the veteran of Lote Tuqiri in the corner. Another successful conversion later, and the Rabbitohs were back in it, 4 points with less than 10 minutes to go.
A miracle penalty to the Rabbitohs in the 76th minute led to a successful penalty goal kicked by none other than Reynolds. This followed by a beauty of a field goal from the number 7, sealing the 21-14 victory for Souths who after this sit in 1st place on the NRL premiership ladder.
The Dogs were very physical throughout the game but couldn't hang on especially in the final 10 minutes. They remain in 6th position.
The Rabbitohs' next challenge will be the Roosters at Allianz in the opening game of Round 26, whilst the Bulldogs take on the Titans.