Rabbitohs Outclass Bulldogs At ANZ Stadium
The Rabbitohs would return to ANZ Stadium to take on the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs in front of a crowd of 8247, winning 28-14 in a polished display.
Being on a similar position on the ladder as the Rabbitohs, the Bulldogs would show their hunger early on with some strong defence and expansive play, shifting the ball to their edges to try and get around the Red and Green wall of defence.
An illegal hit on former Bulldog Bryson Goodwin from Josh Jackson would break the initial arm wrestle, allowing the Rabbitohs to start their set from halfway.
Strong running from forwards John Sutton and Tom Burgess would give the outside backs the room they needed to open the scoring, with an overlap on the left allowing Alex Johnston to send Goodwin in for his ninth try of the season after the bunker confirmed there was no obstruction in the lead up.
Adam Reynolds would add the extras from the sideline to give the home side a 6-0 lead after 8 minutes.
Some quick play the balls and smart running would give the Rabbitohs the momentum to make their way up field, and a lost ball by the Bulldogs on the next set would give them the perfect opportunity to cash in again.
A certain try was disallowed the returning Aaron Gray failed to ground the ball after cutting through the defence, however he would redeem himself a few sets later with a one on one strip on Will Hopoate, and the momentum once again swung in the way of the Red and Greens.
Some ad lib play on last tackle would see Cody Walker cleverly dabble the ball into the in goal, adding some more pressure, however it all came undone when possession came back to the Bulldogs after they recovered a short drop out.
Another great grubber kick, this time from Adam Reynolds, would earn another drop out as youngster Campbell Graham monstered his opposing winger Brett Morris behind the try line.
The Bulldogs this time would opt for a longer kick off, with another youngster in Zane Musgrove making a strong 30 metre carry off the kick, and his front row partner Tom Burgess back up with a strong run up the middle immediately afterwards.
Reynolds would go from hero to villain with a cross field kick going out on the full, and another poor kick from the halfback would see Morris give his team a seven tackle set by easily fielding the ball on the full in his in goal.
With the Bulldogs poking their noses through he Rabbitohs’ defensive line, Sam Burgess would save the day with a tackle on Josh Reynolds just metres out from the try line on the preventing a certain try. The five-eighth would be taken off a few minutes later due to a lower leg injury.
Angus Crichton showed his impact off the bench immediately by making a linebreak on his first run with the ball, however a loose pass in attempting to pick up Damien Cook would end up in the hands of the Bulldogs.
Cook would have a hand in the next try however, cutting through the middle of the ruck from dummy half with his elusiveness and speed, and he would link up with Johnston, who would continue his reign as the NRL’s leading try-scorer.
Reynolds would convert the try from in front to give the Rabbitohs a 12-point buffer with just under 15 minutes until halftime.
Canterbury continued to throw the ball around through the middle, however the committed Rabbitohs defence would shut them down at every opportunity.
A lost ball from Josh Jackson presented the Rabbitohs with another try-scoring opportunity 35 metres from their line, and a penalty on the next set would give Reynolds the chance to extend the lead with a penalty goal with five minutes to go in the first stanza.
More ill-discipline would gift the Rabbitohs the territory to probe the line, and some offloads from the middle forwards would set the platform to add more points, however another mistimed Crichton pass would land in the hands of the Bulldogs.
This time AJ would ground Frawley’s grubber in the in goal, and a penalty on the hooter would give the Bulldogs one last play, with the Bulldogs oddly enough taking a penalty goal, leaving them only down by two converted tries.
The second half would start with the Bulldogs taking a note from their opponents’ book, with plenty of hard runs in the middle and offloads allowing them to finish their first set in the Rabbitohs’ red zone.
Bryson Goodwin would knock the ball on from a Frawley kick, which ricocheted into the arms of Canterbury halfback Chase Stanley, who went under the posts.
Pressure was relieved when Raymond Faitala-Mariner dropped the ball on the second tackle after the kickoff, and the Rabbitohs were back in striking distance.
Johnston would earn try 19 for the season as the Rabbitohs struck back off the next set, with the fleet-footed fullback running through on the left edge untouched.
Reynolds would continue his goal-kicking streak by adding the two points.
The momentum would continue to roll for the Red and Greens with a high tackle on Cameron Murray gifting further possession, and off the next set the Bulldogs would concede another penalty in the ruck.
The lead would continue to grow for the Rabbitohs through a beautiful cut out ball from Adam Reynolds on last tackle sending Aaron Gray in for his first try of the season.
The halfback’s kick would shave the left upright, adding another two points.
Young Cam Murray would continue justify his starting position by making a half break off the next set, followed up by some strong one on one defence.
Captain Sam Burgess would be taken off the field with a rib injury, and after an Adam Reynolds kick went awry, Will Hopoate would make a break downfield, only for Johnston to chase him down and save a try.
A try would come in the next set through Bulldogs captain James Graham however, who would make his mark on the contest by bulldozing over Johnston, and with Chase Stanley kicking the conversion, they would bring the margin back to 12 points.
The cruelty of rugby league would rear its head on the Bulldogs as they lost the ball for the second time off the kickoff, this time through a Matt Frawley drop ball.
A penalty in the ruck would allow Reynolds to take another penalty goal, taking another 14-point lead in the 65th minute.
Fortune would not be on the Rabbitohs’ side either with an Angus Crichton try disallowed after it was found Cam Murray had lost the ball forward in the lead up.
The Bulldogs would continue to throw everything at the Rabbitohs’ defence, with a Marcelo Montoya linebreak nearly leading to a try, and although it was diffused, a knock on by Cam Murray would give the Bulldogs back possession with a scrum feed thirty metres out.
Another touch of the ball and a penalty would give the Dogs more opportunities, with desperate defence preventing multiple attempts from turning into points.
The scores would remain the same with the Rabbitohs earning a well deserved victory.
Rabbitohs 28 (Alex Johnston 2, Bryson Goodwin, Aaron Gray tries; Adam Reynolds 6 goals)
Bulldogs 14 (Chase Stanley, James Graham tries; Chase Stanley 3 goals)