With the top-eight confirmed, the South Sydney Rabbitohs welcomed last-placed Canterbury Bulldogs to ANZ Stadium with hopes of a top-four spot on their minds.
The first points of the game came via the boot of Jake Averillo after Cody Walker was penalised for escorting Bulldogs players off the ball following a fifth tackle kick.
In the 14th minute, the Bulldogs extended their lead as a cross field kick was tapped backwards by Jayden Okunbor.
The ball was then claimed by Tim Lafai and the centre beat the tackle of Adam Reynolds and Campbell Graham to score.
Souths began to work themselves back into the game as the 20th minute mark ticked by but the Bulldogs were holding on firm.
That soon changed when Lachlan Lewis was hit with a big tackle by Jayden Su’A and despite the tackle looking perfectly fine, the second-rower was sent to the sin-bin for ten minutes.
A few minutes later, Reimis Smith charged forwards to Cody Walker and Stephen Marsters and over the line and appeared to ground the ball.
The decision went up to the video referee as a try and after a few looks, the try was confirmed and the Bulldogs extended their lead.
Two huge carries from Okunbor and Josh Jackson straight from the kick-off put Canterbury on the front-foot once again.
They charged up the field and a fifth tackle kick from Averillo was tapped back by Okunbor once again and found the hands of Raymond Faitala-Mariner.
The second-rower took a step off his left foot, and then off his right to dive over the line and push the Bulldogs ahead.
Averillo converted once again to make it 0-20 to Canterbury.
As soon as the Rabbitohs got back to 13-players, they seemed stronger and Cody Walker showed his skills on the right-edge to put Jaxson Paulo into space to slide over in the corner.
Paulo’s right foot did slide over the touchline but that was missed by the touch judge and referee.
The Rabbitohs should have grabbed a second try in the very next set but Corey Allan pushed Jeremy Marshall-King off the ball as they both competed for Alex Johnston’s inside kick.
With 90 seconds Souths finally hit back as the ball was shifted to right following a penalty and after Allan flicked the ball off the floor to Graham, the centre stepped back inside Will Hopoate and dotted down.
HALF-TIME: South Sydney 10-20 Canterbury Bulldogs
Campbell Graham looked to grab his second after just a few minutes of the half, as he attempted to ground the ball in a tackle of four.
Sue managed to get his foot to the floor and force a knock-on from the centre.
With half an hour to go, a cut-out ball from Walker found Alex Johnston and the Souths winger ran in for an easy try, and his 15th of the season.
With just shy of an hour played, Okunbor broke down the left edge, but was dragged down by Paulo.
A set restart followed, but the Rabbitohs held firm to escape through Jed Cartwright.
With 15 minutes to go, following intense pressure on Souths line, the Bulldogs scored.
A kick from Brandon Wakeham went backwards off Johnston into the in-goal area, and Chris Smith reacted quickest to the loose ball and grounded for his first NRL-try.
Walker and Allan combined for the full-back to break down the left.
An inside pass from Allan to Damien Cook, was followd up by an offload to Jed Cartwright for what seemed like a certain try.
However, Hopoate managed to get his hand to the ball and knock it loose to keep the ten-point lead.
With five minutes to go, the Bulldogs still led by 10-points.
Tom Burgess was penalised for obstruction in his own half.
This allowed Wakeham to attempt to make it 16-28 but failed with the penalty attempt.
Souths attempted a short 20-metre drop-out but Canterbury regained the ball
Despite a desperate attempt to score late on, the loose passing from Souths was cleaned up by Canterbury and they picked up their third win of the season.
FULL-TIME: South Sydney Rabbitohs 16-26 Canterbury Bulldogs
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Allan, Johnston, Graham, Marsters, Paulo, Walker, Reynolds, Knight, Cook, Burgess, Su’A, Sironen, Murray
Interchanges: Nicholls, Cartwright, Sele, Koloamatangi
Tries: Paulo, Graham. Johnston
Goals: Reynolds (2/3)
Hopoate, Watene-Zelazniak, R. Smith, Lafai, Okunbor, Averillo, Lewis, Tolman, Marshall-King, Thompson, Jackson, Faitala-Mariner, C. Smith
Interchanges: Wakaham, To’omaga, Katoa, Sue
Tries: Lafai, R. Smith, Faitala-Mariner, C. Smith
Goals: Averillo (4/4), Wakeham (1/1)
Referee: A. Klein
Touch Judges: C. Butler, P. Henderson
Video Referee: H. Perenara
Image Source: @NRL (twitter)