The South Sydney Rabbitohs went down to the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs by one point in this year’s Good Friday clash at ANZ Stadium in a nail biter.
Both sets of fans turned out in force to see the Rabbitohs lead for much of the game, only to be denied in the dying stages of the match by a Trent Hodkinson field goal.
The Bulldogs looked to score early – putting the Rabbitohs on the back-foot in defence with Josh Morris’ pass to Corey Thompson sending the winger in. The video referee didn’t agree though, with a Dogs player deemed to be offside during the play.
Souths bombed a chance at the other end of the field just minutes later when a back-line movement drew the Dogs defence thanks to Greg Inglis before the fullback threw the ball out to an un-marked Bryson Goodwin. But the former Bulldog couldn’t capitalise.
The Rabbitohs continued to attack, with Adam Reynolds kicking to the wing of Nathan Merritt, but the record-breaking try-scorer could only get a finger-tip to the pill in mid-air before going dead in-goal.
After 29 minutes, a penalty to the Rabbitohs 11 metres out gave the home-team an opportunity to get the first points of the match through Adam Reynolds.
With four minutes remaining in the first half, Sam Burgess took a short-pass from Greg Inglis inside the Dog’s 10 metre line with Burgess hitting the ball at speed and crashing over to open the try-scoring tab for the afternoon out wide. Reynolds converted to make it 8-0 in the Rabbitohs’ favour.
From the ensuing kick-off Dave Tyrrell’s head clashed violently with James Graham – the Rabbitoh leaving the field.
Despite some strong attack from the Bulldogs close to the South Sydney line after the break, the Rabbitohs’ defence held strong, with Adam Reynolds managing to kick the side out of trouble on a number of occasions.
But after 12 minutes of holding out, the Rabbitohs line was finally broken by Bulldogs winger Mitch Brown out wide to put them back into the game. Trent Hodkinson converted to make it 8-6.
The Bulldogs’ celebrations were short-lived though thanks to Bryson Goodwin’s kick-off being knocked on by Dogs fullback Sam Perrett – gifting Souths an opportunity in good attacking position. A final-tackle grubber from Reynolds was then taken by Hodkinson, but Greg Inglis caught the blue and white half in-goal.
Hodkinson’s line-drop out travelled 70 metres, but the Rabbitohs were right back up their end by the end of the tackle count to apply yet more pressure.
Eventually it came down to Captain John Sutton, who barged over from first-receiver to extend the Rabbitohs lead. Reynolds converted from out wide to make it 14-6 with 14 minutes remaining.
A Souths mistake from the kick-off put the pressure right back onto them, with the Bulldogs’ Corey Thompson coming away with a four-pointer of his own. Hodkinson added the extras from the touch-line to make it 14-12 with 11 minutes remaining.
A penalty to the Bulldogs mere minutes later gave Trent Hodkinson the opportunity to equalise with 8 minutes remaining. Hodkinson made no mistake, levelling it all up at 14 apiece.
Both sides then began to trade field goal attempts with Hodkinson and Merritt both missing opportunities from close range. But with two minutes left and with the Rabbitohs on the back-foot, Hodkinson snapped a field goal from 25 metres out to boot his team into the lead and to victory.