The South Sydney Rabbitohs have recorded their first win of the season in the traditional Good Friday clash against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, with a decisive double to Jack Wighton proving to be a highlight for the Cardinal and Myrtle.

It was a nail-biting finish, with a late try to Connor Tracey putting a scare in the hearts of Souths’ fans. However, the Rabbitohs’ defence proved to be too strong, as they emerged victorious 20 points to 16 in the first leg of the Mortimer-McCarthy Cup.

The Rabbitohs started strongly, scoring two tries in the first 20 minutes to go out to an early 10-0 lead.

Souths’ first try came through Thomas Burgess, who strolled through a huge gap off the back of a Cameron Murray pass to score next to the posts.

No look pass from Murray and Burgess is in!

Jack Wighton would then keep the scores ticking over with his first try in the Cardinal and Myrtle. It was an Alex Johnston bust from the backfield which saw Souths on the attack. They would then shift the ball left to Wighton, who crashed over after beating both Jacob Kiraz and Connor Tracey.

Jack Wighton on his 1st try in The Red and Green

The Bulldogs hit back in the 24th minute with their first score of the match, a Viliame Kikau offload releasing Josh Addo-Carr down the left wing, who then passed infield to Matt Burton to score untouched.

Burton continued to exert his influence on the contest, kicking the Bulldogs downfield with a huge 40/20.

The Dogs would then capitalize on this field position, with Connor Tracey scoring in the corner off a Blake Taaffe chip kick, for a 12-10 lead at the break.

The Rabbitohs signalled their intent for the second half early, with a big dummy half run from Damien Cook putting his team on the attack in the first set of the half, although they were unable to capitalise with points.

The points would come shortly after however, with Jack Wighton scoring his second of the match off the back of a big shift in their own half.

Wighton with the double

Wighton, combining with Cody Walker for a second time in the game, would get outside his opposite Stephen Crichton before putting Alex Johnston away down the wing. Johnston would then draw the fullback Taaffe, and return the ball to Wighton in support who scored untouched.

Wighton again would find himself involved several minutes later, this time in defence as he cleaned up Connor Tracey with a lovely cover tackle, and keeping the Bulldogs from wrestling back the lead from Souths.

Matt Burton was trying hard to get his side back into the game. A huge run off a 20m tap saw him through the Souths line and one-on-one with Latrell Mitchell at the back.

However, Latrell was too good in defence, jockeying Burton until he was able to get close enough to take his legs and nullify the threat.

Souths found themselves with a one-man advantage in the 51st minute, with Kurtis Morrin sent to the bin for a spear tackle on Cameron Murray. They would further extend their lead during this period with a penalty goal to Latrell in the 52nd minute.

With Morrin back on the field, the Bulldogs looked like levelling the scores in the 63rd minute through a barnstorming run by Kikau. However, an obstruction call against Jaemon Salmon saw the try disallowed.

It was a frantic final 15 minutes, with Souths showing plenty of grit in defence to negate the Bulldogs’ many attacking opportunities.

A penalty goal for an incorrect goal-line restart saw Souths extend their lead to 8 points with just 4 minutes to go.

Connor Tracey then scored his second try of the match in the 79th minute, although it would prove to be inconsequential as Souths managed to hold their lead till the fulltime siren.

Match Snapshot

Play of the Game

This week’s play of the game goes to Latrell Mitchell for his magnificent effort as the last line of defence against Matt Burton. With his side trailing by 4, Burton found himself one-on-one with Latrell in the back field after a quick 20m tap caught Souths off guard. Burton had plenty of footwork to offer, however Latrell held his nerve, and managed to cut down the Bulldogs’ five-eighth with a textbook tackle around the ankles, ensuring that Souths would retain their lead for the time being.

Jack Wighton on his 1st try in The Red and Green

What’s Next

South Sydney will take on the New Zealand Warriors next Saturday in Sydney, in a bid to keep their momentum going and register consecutive victories for the first time in 2024.

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