The South Sydney Rabbitohs NYC side has been pipped at the post by the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs this evening at ANZ Stadium by just two points (26-24).
The Rabbitohs led the blue and whites late in the game – aided by two tries to the hard-running Haimona Hiroti, but it would be the Bulldogs who would leave with the two competition points.
The Bulldogs got proceedings underway when they scored their first try courtesy of a well-orchestrated second-phase play close to the line – Renouf To’Omaga racing in beside the posts. Hooker, Brad Keighran, converted 15 metres in from touch to give the side an early six-point lead.
A penalty to the Rabbitohs eight minutes later gave the home-side an opportunity to attack deep inside the Bulldogs half. The side made full use of the ball, with some adventurous offloading leading to a try to Devon Makoare-Boyce. Jordie Hedges’ conversion attempt from the side-line was struck beautifully off the left boot to equalise at six apiece.
The Rabbitohs began to build sustained pressure on the Dogs, and it would more points for the men in red and green, this time the wide-running Haimona Hiroti getting outside the last Bulldogs defender to score. Hedges converted to take the lead by 12-6.
Canterbury would get one back just before half-time though when they attacked the short-side and came up trumps when winger, Jayden Okunbor crossed the stripe before bettering the position. Keighran converted to take the teams to the sheds on level footing at 12 apiece.
On the resumption, Okunbor grabbed his second of the match when he crossed out wide some ten minutes into the second stanza to make it 16-12.
After a hard slog up the middle, the Rabbitohs finally hit back thanks in large part to a booming forty-twenty kick from Aaron Booth. From the very next play, replacement player, Treyvon Leuleuai, crashed over from short-range, Hedges’ conversion re-taking the lead for the red and greens.
The Rabbitohs seemed to lift a gear on the back of the points, with the side wasting no time in going straight back on the attack close to the Bulldogs line. Hiroti and his men would benefit when the forward crossed for his second of the evening on the back of a powerful run. Hedges again added the extras to take the score to 24-18.
Canterbury weren’t dead and buried though. On their next use of the football, the blue and whites spread the ball to the wing of Marcelo Montoya, who defied the scrambling defence of the Rabbitohs to narrow the gap. Keighran made no mistake from the touch-line to make it a two-point ball-game at 24-22.
With two minutes in the match remaining, the Bulldogs went on a long-distance attacking raid that eventually saw fullback, Joshua Bergamin cross for the final try of the match to take the lead and the win by 26-24.
The Rabbitohs kicked short and regathered for one last throw of the dice, but the score would stand at 26-24 at full-time in favour of the Bulldogs.
Bulldogs 26 (Renouf To’Omaga, Jayden Okunbor 2, Marcelo Montoya, Joshua Bergamin, tries; Brad Keighran 3 goals)
Rabbitohs 24 (Devon Makoare-Boyce, Haimona Hiroti 2, Treyvon Leuleuai tries; Jordie Hedges 4 goals)