The Rabbitohs have made it six wins in a row defeating the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in a match that was made up of twists, turns, and oddities at the Gold Coast on Sunday night.
The Rabbitohs were reduced to 14 men shortly after halftime and overcame a plucky Bulldogs side who had moments of class contrasting with some head-scratching play - and while Souths were far from their best they kicked off life in Queensland with a victory.
Match Highlights: Rabbitohs v Bulldogs
The Rabbitohs had the fist shot at the try line through Taane Milne who wasn't able to control the ball throughout the grounding, but he was given another chance at the stripe shortly after thanks to a flick pass from Campbell Graham and managed to sneak the ball inside the corner post for the first points of the match.
Alex Johnston was over for his 23rd try of the year on the other side of the field shortly after following a Nick Meany error at halfway, and in the ensuing set, the Rabbitohs big men marched the ball downfield allowing their kick chance to trap the Bulldogs fullback in his on in-goal. Jadyn Su'a attempted to jump on a deft kick off the boot of Adam Reynolds to score but once again wasn't able to control it for the score.
From that point onwards the momentum swung in the Bulldogs favour who scored the next two tries following a period riddled with a number of Rabbitohs errors and miscues, as well as the Rabbitohs losing three players to HIA assessments including Campbell Graham who was unable to return.
Bailey Biondi-Odo used his blinding speed out of acting half to split some lazy marker defenders before finding centre Aaron Schoupp on the end of the play for the Bulldogs first try, and a few minutes later following a clash of heads between Liam Knight and Jacob Host which saw both men removed from the field for head injury assessments, the Dogs crossed again through former Rabbitoh Corey Allen.
The Bulldogs would take the lead to the halftime break - which came in bizarre fashion when Lachlan Lewis was sent to the sin-bin for tackling Cody Walker while walking to the sheds after the half-time whistle was blown.
Match: Rabbitohs v Bulldogs
Round 18 -
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
The brain explosion would prove costly as the Rabbitohs reclaimed the lead a few minutes into the second half. After being awarded a penalty for their kick-chase being taken out of play the Rabbitohs shifted to their left and for the sixth straight game, Alex Johnston was in for more than one try in a game. Unfortunately, the flying winger injured his hamstring on the play, and with both Campbell Graham and Liam Knight already being ruled out for failed HIA's the Rabbitohs were down to a single man on the bench.
Adam Reynolds made it a six-point lead with a penalty goal in the 46th minute which brought up 1800 first grade points for the Rabbitohs halfback, but the Bulldogs hit back when a Sione Katoa 40-20 created an opportunity for Jayden Okunbor to get on the scoresheet a few plays later. Jake Averillo's conversion was good and the scores were tied at 18 points all.
Jacob Host broke the deadlock in the 60th minute after Cody Walker threaded a neat kick through the Bulldogs defensive line for the back-rower to pounce on, and Cameron Murray who was backing up from State of Origin and forced into in the centres scored just moments later after a massive bomb from Adam Reynolds was too tough for Nick Meaney to handle. Dane Gagai scooped up the loose ball and shifted to the right for Murray to cross for a ten-point lead.
The advantage lasted just a few tackles though, as the Bulldogs were gifted a four-pointer when Jacob Host spilled the ball following a poor pass from dummy half, which bounced straight into the hands of Bailey Biondi-Odo who crossed untouched under the posts.
The Rabbitohs struck back through an unlikely hero - with March Nicholls crossing out wide for his fourth career try in his 100th NRL game, and that was all she wrote for the Rabbitohs sixth win on the trot.