The South Sydney Rabbitohs got back in the winner's circle after an uncomfortable 26-10 result against a gallant Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs side tonight at Bankwest Stadium.
Looking at the scoreline only, you would suggest the Rabbitohs were comfortable victors tonight. The game suggested anything but, the Rabbitohs did enough including a late Dane Gagai intercept to get past a Bulldogs side down on talent but not grit which kept the game tense all evening.
The clear difference was in the halves. Adam Reynolds directed the Rabbitohs like a Spielberg movie, his general kicking pinned back the Bulldogs back three then he assisted Jaydn Su'A to make it 14-6. Reynolds had his best game of the season and the Rabbitohs half is key to their success this season, with his kicking game.
It becomes the same old song and dance for the Bulldogs. They were competitive but lack the cattle to challenge most teams in the NRL. Pre-match Dean Pay said he had given his side a license to "play some footy" and they were more open in attack but still only produced 10 points tonight.
It seemed like every set, the Rabbitohs were making metres at will. They opened and closed the game with long range efforts from the unwanted Alex Johnston and veteran Dane Gagai took a late intecept to ice the cake.
Tonight wasn't a contest to indicate what the Rabbitohs will be in 2020. Their three victories since the restart have been against Bulldogs, Titans and Warriors whilst they were clear second best against the Roosters and Panthers. So, the litmis test for them, will be when they come up against another heavyweight side to confirm their credentials for the finals later in the season.
From their opening set, the Rabbitohs spread it wide for Johnston open the scoring before an inventive kick from Brandon Wakeham made it 8-6 at the break. Jaydn Su'A stretched the Rabbitohs advantage to eight right after the break with his chase on a grubber.
Raymond Faitala-Mariner closed the gap to four points for the Bulldogs again from a short pass but the Rabbitohs looked likely each set. Cody Walker punched in the nail with his strong running before the late Gagai intercept hammered it for the 26-10 final score.
The Rabbitohs remain outside the top eight on points difference, but have crucial clashes with Wests Tigers and Newcastle Knights coming in the next fortnight. For the Bulldogs, they take on fellow cellar dwellers Brisbane Broncos and St George Illawarra, for their next two.