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The Bulldogs have retained second spot on the NRL ladder after a hard-fought 26-18 victory over the South Sydney Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium this afternoon.
The game was played in perfect conditions and the crowd of 24217 were treated to an entertaining, physical encounter.
The Rabbitohs opened the scoring in the ninth minute when winger Nathan Merritt latched onto halfback Chris Sandow's chip kick towards the posts. Second rower David Fa'alogo extended the Rabbitohs lead a few minutes later when he crossed out wide. But as has been seen many times this year, the Bulldogs are the real deal and only needed some quality field position and possession. Centre Josh Morris scored the Bulldogs first try of the afternoon and when winger Hazem El Masri also scored a few minutes later, the Bulldogs had clawed their way back into the contest at 12-10. There was to be some drama when the Rabbitohs were awarded a try to Beau Champion although replays indicated that there may have been more than a hint of obstruction - a call that is believed to have upset the Bulldogs camp. The sides went to the break with Souths leading 18-10. Unfortunately that was to be as good as it got for the red-and-greens.
The Bulldogs began their second half shutout when El Masri pounced on an in-goal error by Souths centre Colin Best. Brett Kimmorley's chip kick was plucked out of the air by John Sutton who threw the ball to Best who wasn't expecting the ball. El Masri was in the right spot and grounded the ball to get the Dogs back in the contest. Try-scoring machine Bryson Goodwin scored the most acrobatic try of the afternoon when he manouevred his body around the corner post, getting the ball down in the corner moments before touching the corner post. El Masri's missed conversion wasn't going to prove costly as Gary Warburton put the issue beyond doubt in the 71st minute. Hooker Michael Ennis moved out of dummy half and drew a few defenders before delivering a perfect pass to Warburton who hit the ball at pace, scoring next to the posts. El Masri put the Dogs' eight points clear with his successful conversion, which was to be the final scoring play.
Next week, the Bulldogs host the Raiders on Saturday night, while the Rabbitohs will travel to Brookvale to tackle the Sea Eagles.
Canterbury Bulldogs 26 def South Sydney Rabbitohs 18
Round 21 - Sunday August 2nd, 2009 03:00pm Venue: ANZ Stadium, Homebush Bay Referee: Gavin Badger & Ashley Klein
Sideline Officials: Steve Chiddy & Gavin Morris
Video Referee: Sean Hampstead Crowd: 24217 Halftime: South Sydney Rabbitohs 18 Canterbury Bulldogs 10
South Sydney Rabbitohs 18
Tries: Nathan Merritt, David Fa'alogo, Beau Champion
Goals: Chris Sandow (3/3)
Canterbury Bulldogs 26
Tries: Josh Morris, Hazem El Masri (2), Bryson Goodwin, Gary Warburton
Goals: Hazem El Masri (3/5)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Talk about the game as it happens - Rabbitohs v Bulldogs forum discussion - click here!
Welcome to ANZ Stadium at Homebush for this afternoon's round 21 encounter between the high-flying Bulldogs and South Sydney. Both sides appear to be as per program and Sydney has turned on a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon which should be conducive for free-flowing, attacking rugby league. Kick off is scheduled a little after 3pm. Join me then.
RABBITOHS: 1. Nathan Merritt 2. Jamie Simpson 3. Colin Best 4. Beau Champion 5. Fetuli Talanoa 6. John Sutton 7. Chris Sandow 8. Luke Stuart 9. Issac Luke 10. Roy Asotasi (c) 11. Ben Lowe 12. Eddy Pettybourne 13. David Fa'alogo Interchange: 14. Craig Wing 15. Shannan McPherson 16. Michael Crocker 17. Scott Geddes; Reserves: 18. Dave Tyrrell BULLDOGS: 1. Luke Patten 2. Hazem El Masri 3. Josh Morris 4. Jamal Idris 5. Bryson Goodwin 6. Ben Roberts 7. Brett Kimmorley 8. Ben Hannant 9. Michael Ennis 10. Michael Hodgson 11. Gary Warburton 12. Andrew Ryan 13. David Stagg Interchange: 15. Chris Armit 16. Greg Eastwood 17. Yileen Gordon 19. Jarrad Hickey
1 min: And we're underway! The Bulldogs will have first use of the ball.
2 min: Souths run the ball on the last tackle through John Sutton, but lack of support gives the Bulldogs the ball.
6 min: The Bulldogs knock the ball on after a perfectly weighted chip kick. Souths on the attack now.
8 min: Penalty Souths. The first penalty is awarded against Michael Ennis.
9 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs Souths open the scoring! Winger Merritt scores, plucking Sandow's chip out of the air. Promising start by the Bunnies. Conversion attempt by Chris Sandow successful. South Sydney Rabbitohs 6-0
11 min: Goal-line dropout Bulldogs. Some enterprising play by the Rabbits, including two kicks, culminates in a repeat set.
14 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs Fa'aologo scores for the Rabbits! The Bunnies have had a dream start, had all the ball and the Bulldogs haven't had an opportunity as yet. Conversion attempt by Chris Sandow successful. South Sydney Rabbitohs 12-0
16 min: Souths knock the ball on through Isaac Luke although replays indicate he was a little unlucky. The Bulldogs will have their first real opportunity of the game.
17 min: Penalty Bulldogs. Lack of communication at the back gifts the Bulldogs a penalty, with Souths players being found offside.
18 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Josh Morris hits back for the Bulldogs, scoring out wide. Finally, the Dogs get some field position and they make the most of it. Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri unsuccessful. South Sydney Rabbitohs 12-4
22 min: The Dogs perhaps a little lucky to get the scrum feed, after El Masri appeared to knock the ball into touch.
25 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs El Masri scores another try for the Bulldogs! Kimmorley's combination chip/bomb is knocked back by Jamal Idris to El Masri, who dives over. In the back play, David Stagg has not moved and there are hints of a headslam by Isaac Luke. Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful. South Sydney Rabbitohs 12-10
29 min: Souths knock the ball on again, gifting the Bulldogs another opportunity.
29 min: Josh Morris bundled into touch. Souths survive.
32 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs Hampstead awards the try to Beau Champion. Suggestions there was an obstruction, however Hampstead thought otherwise. Conversion attempt by Chris Sandow successful. South Sydney Rabbitohs 18-10
34 min: Sandow kicks out on the full and then exchanges pleasantries with Dogs hooker Michael Ennis.
34 min: Penalty Souths. Ennis found to have hit Sandow late after the kick. Souths on the attack now.
38 min: Line dropout Bulldogs. In the shadows of halftime, Sandow's grubber presents the Rabbitohs with a repeat set.
HALFTIME: RABBITOHS 18 BULLDOGS 10
Halftime here at ANZ Stadium and the South Sydney Rabbitohs go to the sheds with an 8-point buffer. The Bulldogs have had few chances and possession, and will be looking to close the gap early in the second half. The Rabbitohs have shown glimpses of enterprising, attacking footy, and an intriguing second half awaits.
40 min: And the second half is underway. Can the Bulldogs turn it around or will Souths continue their late-season surge?
45 min: Early signs in the second half here are that the Bulldogs still have some room for improvement. Both sides are completing their sets and getting to their kick.
46 min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible South Sydney try. Looking for onside, grounding, knock on.
47 min: No Try. The Bulldogs will restart with a 20m tap kick.
52 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs El Masri closes the gap for the Dogs! Kimmorley's chip kick is knocked back, before John Sutton attempts to pass the ball to Colin Best who drops the ball, gifting El Masri a cheap try. Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful. South Sydney Rabbitohs 18-16
58 min: We are about to enter the final quarter of this encounter with it on a knife-edge. The Dogs are starting to find their groove while Souths are making some errors.
59 min: VIDEO REFEREE : Possible Bulldogs try. Bryson Goodwin appears to have dived over acrobatically in the corner.
59 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Goodwin's acrobatic manouevre has come up with a Benefit Of The Doubt try. The Dogs are in front! Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri unsuccessful. Canterbury Bulldogs 20-18
62 min: Penalty Souths. Kimmorley believes he was hard done by, but replays suggest he was offside and made no effort to move.
66 min: South Sydney knock on. Bulldogs with the chance to skip clear here.
70 min: Penalty Bulldogs. The Bulldogs get their first penalty of the second half and will go on the attack and look to put the game beyond the Rabbitohs reach here.
71 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Warburton may have scored the matchwinner here! Ennis crabbed across field and found Warburton who hit the gap at pace and was never going to be stopped. Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 26-18
73 min: Penalty Souths. Sandow has not found touch though!
76 min: The Bulldogs are winding the clock down here and muscling up in defence. Barring a minor miracle, the Dogs will retain second spot on the ladder.
78 min: Penalty Bulldogs. The Bulldogs will be looking for an exclamation mark on a much improved second half.
Fulltime here at ANZ Stadium and the Bulldogs have run out 26-18 victors, putting a dent in the Rabbitohs semi-final aspirations. The Bulldogs will retain second spot while the Rabbitohs will stay outside the top eight.