The South Sydney Rabbitohs have defeated the Bulldogs in the Back to Belmore trial by 28-20 in front of 5913 Members and supporters.
The Rabbitohs began the match in uncharacteristic fashion, giving away three penalties that marched the Bulldogs up the field and into perfect attacking position. Drury Low finished off a sleek backline movement to give the Bulldogs an early 4-0 lead.
Souths hit back half way through the first half through Beau Champion, who steamed onto a perfectly timed ball after a well-orchestrated set-play to level it all up at four points apiece – Adam Reynolds missing the conversion from out wide.
On the back of another penalty, the Rabbitohs were in again through Dylan Walker, who in much the same fashion as the earlier Champion try hit the ball at speed. Reynolds made no mistake with the conversion to take the lead at 10-4.
Things got worse for the Dogs when on the ensuing kick-off they sailed the ball over the touch-line on the full, giving the Rabbitohs another opportunity in good field position. But the red and greens failed to convert the opportunity to points.
With the first half winding down, the Bulldogs hit back through a barnstorming San Kasiano, who planted the ball adjacent to the posts to level up the scores at 10 apiece.
But Souths weren’t done yet, with Adam Reynolds putting a perfectly weighted kick in for Luke Keary into the in-goal to score, but the try was disallowed on the grounds that the pass to Reynolds was forward.
At half-time, both sides made drastic changes to their line-ups – the Bulldogs with an entirely new set of players. Among the changes for the Rabbitohs was the injection of Lote Tuqiri onto the wing, and Cameron McInnes at hooker.
The Bulldogs were first in to score through front-rower Lloyd Perrett, who crashed over adjacent to the posts to give the home-side the lead again. Pat Templeman converted to make it 16-10, but the Rabbitohs hit straight back with Dylan Walker answering back with his second of the afternoon out wide. Walker converted his own try to lock it all up at 16 apiece.
The Rabbitohs’ Cameron McInnes was determined to break the dead-lock, with the replacement hooker showing great skill to duck under multiple Canterbury defenders to plant the ball over the line adjacent to the posts. Walker converted to make it 22-16 in the red and green’s favour.
The Bulldogs’ Pat Townsend was next to score after taking a pass back on the inside from a Bulldogs break – Templeman was unable to convert, leaving the Rabbitohs ahead 22-20 with just under 13 minutes remaining.
Rabbits replacement Chris Centrone though was unperturbed, increasing the side’s lead with his four-pointer on the touch-line. Dylan Walker converted to give the Rabbits an eight-point-buffer with seven minutes left.
Rabbitohs 28 (Beau Champion, Dylan Walker 2, Cameron McInnes, Chris Centrone tries; Adam Reynolds, Dylan Walker 3 goals)
Bulldogs 20 (Drury Low, Sam Kasiano, Lloyd Perrett, Pat Townsend tries; Trent Hodksinson, Pat Templeman goals)