The Young Rabbitohs have held out a determined Bulldogs fight back at ANZ Stadium to win their Round 23 clash 28-24 and register their 10th win of the season.
The 14th-placed Bulldogs started the encounter strongly but a confident Rabbitohs outfit handled them expertly with a disciplined defensive approach and plenty of effort.
It would prove to be a back-and-forth affair for the first 18 minutes as both teams found themselves in good attacking position. SG Ball import Dean Hawkins would prove the difference, orchestrating several unsuccessful attacking moves before taking the ball himself, beating four Bulldogs defenders and scoring. Hawkins converted his own try to give the Young Rabbitohs a 6-0 lead after 20 minutes.
The Rabbitohs would build on this momentum and force the young Bulldogs into several repeat sets. Dean Hawkins would again provide a breakthrough for the Rabbitohs, putting up a deft chip to the right edge to an unmarked Tyrone Taukamo to score. Hawkins conversion attempt would be denied by the posts and the home side would sit with a 10-0 lead after 30 minutes.
The Bulldogs wouldn’t take long to respond to the deficit. Off the back of a penalty, centre Alvin Maungaati would force his way over the line in the 35th minute as the Bulldogs shifted to our right edge. Adam Keighran would convert and the young Rabbitohs would defend a 10-6.
With less than two minutes on the clock, second-rower Lucky Taavale would find space on the right edge to crash through the Bulldogs defence and score. Hawkins would slot this conversion as the siren rang and we’d go into the sheds with a 16-10 lead.
The Bulldogs would come out swinging in the second half, threatening to break through the Rabbitohs defensive line on several occasions. Building pressure and coming up inches short of the line on several occasions. A quick shift to the right would create enough space for second-rower Dalton Smith to beat his marker and score for the Bulldogs. Keighran would convert and the Bulldogs trail 16-12 after 45 minutes.
Sensing a momentum shift, NYC Head Coach Ryan Carr would bring on impact substitute player Jordan Mailata, who used to play in the Bulldogs junior reps, to help his squad capitalise when they got in scoring position. The big prop did just that in the 55th minute as he ran straight through the Bulldogs defensive line to score under the posts. Hawkins would convert and the Rabbitohs would lead 22-12.
10 minutes later, Jordan Mailata would bag his second try for the night in almost identical manner to his first. The 147kg prop burst through the Bulldogs line to score under the posts, Hawkins converted to push the Rabbitohs out to 28-12.
The Bulldogs would mount a comeback with two quick tries in the 68th and 70th minutes through Giordan Patea and fullback Blake Clayton. Keighran would convert both to drag the Bulldogs back to a 28-24 scoreline.
The Bulldogs would continue to hammer the Rabbitohs line, forcing multiple repeat sets in the 76th minute and setting up an intense finish to the night.
After Harry Leddy and Beau Cordtz combined to get us out of danger, a controversial penalty call would turn the momentum back to the Bulldogs after some push and shove on our 20 metre line.
A spirited Rabbitohs defence would hold out a Bulldogs attack and force their halfAdam Keighran to run it on the last tackle for a handover.
With the clock winding down and the Rabbitohs with possession the Young Rabbitohs would slow the tempo to soak up the remaining time and finish the game at 28-24.
Souths 28 (Jordan Mailata 2, Dean Hawkins, Tyrone Taukamo, Lucky Taavale, tries; Dean Hawkins 4 goals)
Bulldogs 24 (Alvin Maungaati, Dalton Smiths, Giordan Patea, Blake Clayton tries; Adam Keighran 4 goals)