The South-Sydney Rabbitohs have won their ninth consecutive game, defeating the canterbury Bulldogs 24 points to 6 at ANZ Stadium in Sydney. The win has propelled the Rabbitohs clear of the Dragons into outright 1st position on the ladder.
The game started slowly, and there were a few errors from both teams with neither able to take an advantage early on. The Bulldogs opened the scoring with a penalty goal from Rhyse Martin in the 20th minute, and not long after that the Rabbitohs answered back with a try to winger Robert Jennings. This seemed to be the play that clicked the Rabbitohs into gear, as they scored another try shortly after when Adam Reynolds showed some great support play off the back of a Damien Cook run and a Cody Walker line break, which gave the Rabbitohs a 12-2 lead at half-time.
The second half started well for the Rabbitohs, when halfback Adam Reynolds executed a perfect kick in behind the defense of the Bulldogs for Robert Jennings to bag his second try of the day. The Bulldogs fought hard all game and eventually were able to get a try of their own through young winger Reimis Smith, after some brilliant lead up work from fullback Will Hopoate. The remainder of the game turned into an arm wrestle for momentum, until the Rabbitohs extended their lead with a third try to Robert Jennings in the 71st minute. From there they were able to hold the Bulldogs attack at bay until fulltime and come away with a 24-6 win.
RABBITOHS START SLOW BUT PROVE THEY ARE COMPETITION LEADERS
The Rabbitohs in particular looked a little rusty after coming off a bye week last week. After their initial rough patch, the Rabbitohs found their rhythm, and were able to prove to the Bulldogs, and to the rest of the teams in the NRL that they do deserve to be leading the competition. It was a very well-rounded performance from the league leaders. Even when their attack wasn’t clicking they were able to repel any attacking raids the Bulldogs could muster. They were very desperate in defence when called upon, and only cracked once in the face of any good field position the Bulldogs had.
When given the opportunity as the game progressed, their star players, led mainly by their spine of Reynolds, Walker and Cook, were able to really stamp their authority on the game and make the Bulldogs pay for their errors in the best way, by putting them behind on the score board. They have now won nine consecutive games, a feat which is extremely difficult to achieve for any team in the NRL, in any season. The scary thing is, they don’t look like slowing down any time soon, and still have one of their best players in Greg Inglis to return from injury.
BULLDOGS SHOW DETERMINATION BUT FALL SHORT OF THE MARK
The Bulldogs were beaten convincingly this game, as the scoreline suggests. But what the scoreline doesn’t show is the effort and determination they put in throughout the full 80 minutes. The Bulldogs were arguably the better team for the first 20 minutes, even if they were only able to score two points. Throughout the game, there were several occasions were they were able to break the Rabbitohs line and get into the in-goal area, but were held up just inches off the ground, or they would have a try disallowed.
Fullback Will Hopoate looked especially dangerous for the entire game. He was the source of much of the Bulldogs attack, and was responsible for setting up their first and only try mid way through the second half. The last-minute loss to the Raiders didn’t seem to have an effect on the effort from the Bulldogs this week, which will be pleasing for coach Dean Pay, but it was the lack of execution and inability to finish their attaching opportunities which cost them in the end.
ADAM REYNOLDS BREAKS BULLDOGS WITH KICKING MASTERCLASS
After their slow start to the game, the Rabbitohs were looking for someone who would swing the game in their favour and give them the ascendancy in the first half. Adam Reynolds was able to do that using his kicking game, which was on show all afternoon. The first set of the game where he found touch 10 metres out from the Bulldogs line to the full-time siren, he was one of the big differences between the two sides.
He had plenty of time to put up a few spiralling bombs that really caused some headaches for the Bulldogs back three. There were at least two occasions in the first half when the game was in the balance, and Brett Morris was unable to even lay a hand on the bombs Reynolds had put up. Both of these errors resulted in the Rabbitohs regaining possession, and scoring points quickly after. The young Bulldogs halves of Lachlan Lewis and Jeremy Marshall-King performed admirably, although you could tell they were missing a touch of class that the veteran Reynolds provides to the Rabbitohs week in week out.
ORIGIN PLAYERS SHOW NO SIGNS OF FATIGUE AFTER BACKING UP
There were question marks all the way up to game day over whether or not the Origin players would back up for both sides, and if they did, how well they would play after such an intense Game 3 on Wednesday night. Those questions were answered in a big way, especially by Rabbitohs hooker Damien Cook. After making 35 tackles for the Blues on Wednesday night, Cook followed this up with 46 tackles against the Bulldogs, and was up to his usual tricks. Every time there was a quick play-the-ball, or situations where there was no one defending at marker, he would scamper out of dummy half and make an easy 20-30 metres each time.
On one of these runs he was able to link up with both Angus Crichton and Cody Walker, who went on to set up Adam Reynolds for the Rabbitohs second try. The efforts from Dane Gagai and Angus Crichton also didn’t go unnoticed, with both managing to play 80 minutes and look uninhibited doing so. They were both heavily involved in attack and defense for the Rabbitohs, and without their contributions there would no doubt have been a different feel to the game, and the scoreline may have reflected a much closer contest.
South-Sydney Rabbitohs 24
Tries: Robert Jennings 3, Adam Reynolds
Goals: Adam Reynolds 4/5
Drop Goals: N/A
canterbury Bulldogs 6
Tries: Reimis Smith
Goals: Rhyse Martin 1/2
Drop Goals: N/A
Bulldogs: 1 Will Hopoate, 2 Brett Morris, 3 Josh Morris, 4 Kerrod Holland, 5 Reimis Smith, 6 Lachlan Lewis, 7 Jeremy Marshall-King, 8 Aiden Tolman, 9 Michael Lichaa, 10 David Klemmer, 11 Josh Jackson (c), 12 Rhyse Martin, 13 Adam Elliott
Interchange: 14 Fa’amanu Brown, 15 Clay Priest, 16 Ofahiki Ogden, 17 Danny Fualalo
Rabbitohs: 1 Alex Johnston, 2 Campbell Graham, 3 Hymel Hunt, 4 Dane Gagai, 5 Robert Jennings, 6 Cody Walker, 7 Adam Reynolds, 8 Thomas Burgess, 9 Damien Cook, 10 George Burgess, 11 John Sutton, 12 Angus Crichton, 13 Sam Burgess (c)
Interchange: 14 Adam Doueihi, 15 Cameron Murray, 16 Mark Nicholls, 17 Tevita Tatola