The South Sydney Rabbitohs have taken another step towards qualifying for the Holden Cup finals series in 2014, scoring a solid 36-24 victory over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at Campbelltown Sports Stadium today (Saturday).
The Bulldogs were reduced to 11 men at one stage, with the Rabbitohs making the most of the open spaces to forge an unassailable lead midway through the second half.
The Bulldogs were the first to score in the fifth minute of play when winger Marcelo Montoya crossed in the left hand corner on the back of a couple of piggy-back penalties. Brad Keighran converted from out wide to give the home side a six-nil lead.
The Rabbitohs responded almost immediately when halfback Brad Wall spun out of a tackle to score on the left hand side. The Rabbitohs had been pressuring the Bulldogs’ line and that paid dividends, taking the scoreline to six-four in favour of Canterbury-Bankstown.
The Rabbitohs scored again three minutes later when centre John Olive put prop Ofa Felila through a hole, charging 15 metres to score. The conversion was missed, taking the scoreline to eight-six in favour of South Sydney.
The Rabbitohs were the next to score when second rower Tulsa Saumamao scored in the 31st minute of play. A quality short ball from Wallace Tangiiti put Saumamao through who had to beat the fullback to score. Tangiiti converted to give the Rabbitohs a 14-6 lead.
The ‘Dogs scored their second try through Montoya again, this time scooting around the in-goal area to make the conversion attempt easier for his kicker. Brendan Cox converted to take the scores to 14-12 at the half time break.
The Rabbitohs looked to be doing it fairly easy when they could hang on to the ball, but poor handling thwarted a number of scoring chances for the visitors. The Bulldogs were very ill-disciplined, giving away many penalties and having front rower Herman Ese’ese sent to the sin bin for ten minutes for dissent towards the referee, but they managed to finish the half within two points of their more-fancied opponents.
The Bulldogs snatched the lead in the opening minutes of the second half when Dujuan Manuel-Liolevave scored in the right corner. Cox converted from the eastern touchline to take the lead 18 points to 14 after 46 minutes.
The Bulldogs were reduced to 12 men in the 52nd minute of the game after five-eighth Robbie Kamoto up-ended a Rabbitohs’ ball runner into an extremely dangerous position and was sent from the field by the referee. Halfback Guy Hamilton would also spend ten minutes in the sin bin for a professional foul from the 58th minute of play.
The Rabbitohs made the most of the 11-man Bulldogs side, crossing for three tries in the ten minute period. In the 59th minute, Tulsa Saumamao crossed for his second try to the left of the posts, with Wallace Tangiiti’s conversion giving the Rabbitohs a 20-18 lead.
Two minutes later, winger Sam Manuleleua took the ball from the kick off and raced the length of the field up the right hand touchline to score a remarkable try. Tangiiti converted establishing an eight-point advantage.
Three minutes later, prop Eden Syme would scoop up a Tangiiti grubber kick into the in-goal to score, and Tangiiti converted to give the Rabbitohs a 32-18 lead after 65 minutes of play.
The Bulldogs struck back through hooker Alex Sorge who dived over from dummy half nine minutes short of full time. Keighran’s conversion reduced the deficit to eight points.
The Rabbitohs scored the final try of the match in the 78th minute when a long ball from Brad Wall found John Olive 40 metres out from his own line. Olive turned the defence inside out and then fired up the afterburners to scoot 60 metres to score in the left hand corner to take the final scoreline to 36-24 in favour of South Sydney.
The Rabbitohs worked hard throughout the 80 minutes, led by Cheyne Whitelaw in the forwards. Manuleleua and Olive looked dangerous in the backs, especially when given a bit of space due to the send offs for the Bulldogs. The ‘Dogs big forwards gave the Rabbitohs some headaches, but the Rabbitohs turned in an electrifying second half to score an important victory in terms of qualifying for the Holden Cup finals series.
The Rabbitohs will now move on to take on the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium next Thursday evening in the final round of the Holden Cup competition.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 36 (Tulsa Saumamao 2, Brad Wall, Ofa Felila, Sam Manuleleua, Eden Syme, John Olive tries; Wallace Tangiiti 4 goals)
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 24 (Marcelo Montoya 2, Dujuan Manuel-Liolevave, Alex Sorge tries; Brendan Cox 2, Brad Keighran 2 goals)