The South Sydney Rabbitohs Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership side have kicked off their 2019 season in style against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in Round 3 of the competition at ANZ Stadium with an 18-4 win.
The Rabbitohs displayed some desperate defence early on, as a break from the Bulldogs was shut down by fullback Karri Doyle. Although a penalty set up the Bulldogs to set up to score the first points, winger Rikka Lamb dived on a loose pass to prevent her side from conceding early on.
It was halfback Emily Young’s turn to stop the attack, chasing down her opposite Shannon Evans who made a break on the right-hand side to stop her in her tracks. Centre Emma Gillogly shut down a two-on-one situation, and a kick from the Bulldogs gave the Red and Green a seven-tackle set as it went dead.
The Rabbitohs made a similar attacking raid, and just like their opponents, a kick by five-eighth Candice Clay gave a seven-tackle set.
A penalty in the tackle then gave Souths a prime opportunity to claim the first points of the match, but points went begging as a three-on-one overlap wasn’t capitalised on.
A ball-strip call on Rhianna Sutherland saw another opportunity for the home side, which was taken by five-eighth Clay, who burrowed over from dummy-half to score her side’s first points of the game and year.
Captain Rebecca Riley then took the reigns, swerving through the defence after making a break from dummy-half to set up a goal-line drop-out, only for an error to take pressure off the Bulldogs.
A penalty then gave their opponents their own chance to get on the board, but the Rabbitohs defence forced an error twenty metres from the line, halting their short-lived momentum.
Clay continued to wreak havoc, this time with the boot, putting up a pinpoint bomb, only for the final Riley and bench forward Meleanna Waters combined to force an error from the Dogs, again executing their dominance.
That dominance would turn into points as a well-executed sweep on the right edge saw winger Rikka Lamb dive over in the corner to score her own four-pointer.
Ill-discipline crept into the side with back to back penalties, which then saw Bulldogs winger Cindy Edwards touch down in the corner to close the gap to four at the break.
An error on the first set of the second stanza could have proven costly, but the strong defensive effort from the Rabbitohs prevented further points being scored against them.
Further defensive cohesion, notably by experienced campaigners Gillogly and Lamb on the right shut down the Dogs, which then forced an error in the Rabbitohs’ half.
Errors and penalties from the side continued to half momentum and hand their opponents opportunities, who nearly went over again only for a wayward pass to travel forward.
But back-to-back penalties from the Bulldogs helped the Rabbitohs gain territory, only for the second kick for touch to be regathered by the blue and white.
The Red and Green then gained the ascendency with a group tackle forcing a Bulldogs player out, which then saw front rower Moniqca Moale crash over to extend the lead. Candice Clay’s conversion then gave the side a ten-point buffer with less than a third of the match left.
With the wind behind their backs, the Rabbitohs made plenty of ground on their next set, with some committed defence pinning the Bulldogs behind the try-line and forcing a drop-out.
The added momentum brought the side to life, with Gillogly getting a well-deserved try, pushing through the defence and crashing over just minutes later, sealing the Rabbitohs’ first win of the season in front of an emphatic Red and Green crowd.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 18 (Candice Clay, Rikka Lamb, Moniqca Moale, Emma Gillogly tries; Candice Clay goals)
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 4 (Cindy Edwards tries; goals)