Elinya Chenery reviews the final match of Round 18…
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 28
Tries: Braidon Burns (8), Declan Casey (11), Joe Stimson (47), Jake Averillo (46), Paul Vaughan (66)
Goals: Matt Burton 4 (10, 48, 58, 68)
South Sydney Rabbitohs 36
Tries: Lachlan Ilias (3), Cody Walker (17), Alex Johnston 3 (34,74,77), Latrell Mitchell (60), Tevita Totola (70)
Goals: Latrell Mitchell 4 (4,18, 61,71)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
The final match of the Origin-affected Round 18 was a points-heavy affair. With long-range tries and individual magic galore, this was an entertaining match that went right down to the wire.
South Sydney’s halfback Lachlan Ilias was able to put in a deft right foot grubber and regather his own kick to open the scoring early in the game. To add insult to injury, the Bulldogs then lost their Captain’s Challenge within the following set.
Changing the momentum, a silky set play off the back of a scrum saw the ball pass through Bulldogs’ halfback Kyle Flanagan and over to Braidon Burns on the right edge to place the ball down for Canterbury’s first points of the evening.
Suddenly, it was all the Dogs, with an offside penalty against Keaon Koloamatangi on the set following the try to piggyback Canterbury down the field. It would then be five eighth Matt Burton backing up from State of Origin: he connected with Declan Casey for his first NRL try and the Bulldogs’ second try of the match.
The points continued to come steadily in this one, after a weight of possession saw Koloamatangi make up for his earlier error with a skilful offload to Cody Walker. The five eighth then crossed the line untouched and set the pace at one try every five minutes in the opening quarter of the match.
After a Bunker upheld a ‘no try’ ruling for the Bulldogs due to a Kyle Flanagan obstruction, prolific try scorer Alex Johnston got his 17th four pointer of the year. It was a spine combination of Ilias, Walker, and Latrell Mitchell that set up the winger, following a somewhat controversial turnover from Corey Waddell, who believed he had been hit high.
To open the scoring for the second half, Bulldogs’ hooker Jeremy Marshall-King put a pass on the chest of a rampaging Joe Stimson to crash over next to the posts. With Burton kicking the conversion successfully, scores were once again level with 31 minutes left to play.
A shift out of their own end saw Casey produce some fancy footwork and make a clean break through the Rabbitohs’ defensive line, running the ball to South Sydney’s 30 metre line himself before drawing in Mitchell with the looming threat of Josh Addo-Carr on his outside. With the South Sydney defence distracted, Casey instead went to Flanagan on his inside, who then shuffled the ball on to Jake Averillo in support for Canterbury to score and once again take the lead in this see-sawing game.
Almost immediately after, Mitchell was on a mission to get one of his own back. A handy offload from Kodi Nikorima 35 metres out from the Bulldogs’ line saw Mitchell go on a barnstorming, tackle-breaking run to the try line, before converting his own try and tying up the scores once again.
Another long-range try and a passage of ad-lib footy for the Bulldogs consisted of touches from no less than four Canterbury players before ending up in the hands of Paul Vaughan. Whilst Vaughan was completing his “Try July” celebration, tempers were flaring between Walker and Flanagan, ending in a all-in scuffle on the dead ball line.
A fired up Walker continued the try-for-try routine of this match with a dart out of dummy half to link up with Mitchell who shifted the ball off to Tevita Tatola to exploit a large gap in the Dogs’ defensive line. With the conversion successful from Mitchell, the scores were once again level with eight minutes remaining.
The Rabbitohs hit the lead following a deep shift to the left edge through a no-look pass from Mitchell to Johnston for his second try of the evening. South Sydney then sealed the deal with a third consecutive try off a pin-point kick from Walker and a miracle offload from Isaiah Tass whilst going over the sideline. Consistently in the right place at the right time, Johnston was the recipient of Tass’ offload and made no mistake of the put down for his 12th career hat-trick.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Latrell Mitchell (Rabbitohs), 2 pts – Alex Johnston (Rabbitohs), 1 pt – Declan Casey (Bulldogs)
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