The Canterbury Bulldogs, at the foot of the ladder, welcomed a South Sydney Rabbitohs side looking to bounce back from a disappointing defeat last weekend.
It took a total of three and a half minutes for the Rabbitohs to get on the board, as Latrell Mitchell popped the ball onto Alex Johnston who raced down the left-hand edge, stepped past Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and outpaced the Bulldogs covering defenders to slide over.
After ten minutes of back and forth between the two sides, Watene-Zelezniak slide through the South Sydney defence and made a half-break.
However, just as he looked to pass the ball out wide for a certain try, Campbell Graham tapped the full-backs arm and tackle him to force the ball to hit the floor.
With 15 minutes to go until the break, Marcelo Montoya dropped the ball, which allowed Dane Gagai to break down the right.
After being dragged down by Christian Crichton, the Bunnies then played quick expansive football which gave Brandon Wakeham no choice but to slow them down by stripping the ball illegally from Damien Cook.
Reynolds opted to convert the penalty instead of pushing for a second try and the Rabbitohs led by eight.
With five minutes to go until the break, the Bulldogs had built up some serious pressure on the South Sydney defence.
Brandon Wakeham was the catalyst as his chip kick over the top of an onrushing Rabbitohs defence was weighted perfectly for Montoya to run onto and dive over the line to score on his return.
South Sydney were unlucky not to regain the ball straight from the restart as the Bulldogs let the ball bounce, and looked to have claimed it while stood on the dead-ball line.
This was missed by the referee and his touch judges, but it didn’t stop the Rabbitohs from nearly scoring in their next attacking set.
Reynolds chip into the corner bounced into the hands of Dane Gagai, but Nick Meaney did enough to grab hold of his opposite number and force a knock-on.
HALF-TIME: Canterbury Bulldogs 6-8 South Sydney Rabbitohs
The Rabbitohs started the second half extremely bright, charging up the middle of the park and extending their lead.
Reynolds grubber kick along the floor was dotted down by Jaydn Su’A for his first try for Souths.
Just minutes later, James Roberts bullied his way past Montoya to offload the ball to Dane Gagai, who, in turn, attempted to beat the tackle of Keiran Foran but the half-back did enough to push the winger into touch.
With 25 minutes to go, Faitala-Mariner stretched over to score after a decent build-up from the Bulldogs. It was unsure if the second-rower bounced the ball on grounding it, but the Bunker confirmed to four-pointer to close the deficit once again.
With just a slender four-point lead, the Rabbitohs were determined to push further ahead after being pegged back.
Damien Cook passed to Cameron Murray who’s quick tip onto Cody Walker was enough for the half-back to break through the Canterbury line and score.
Adam Reynolds converted for a ten-point lead with just over 20 minutes to go.
The Bulldogs were pushing forwards once again, but a good defensive read from Johnston stopped a certain try from the home side.
With ten minutes left on the clock, Braidon Burns went close to the line on the right-hand edge, but after being twisted up in the tackle of Meaney and Montoya, the centre appeared to dislocate his knee, and he was carted off the field.
With the Bulldogs pushing to close the gap in the final minutes, the pressure was on for the Rabbitohs.
However, Montoya’s pass to Meaney was picked off by Dane Gagai just five metres from his own line, and the winger raced away for his 50th NRL try.
FULL-TIME: Canterbury Bulldogs 10-26 South Sydney Rabbitohs
Watene-Zelezniak, Meaney, Smith, Montoya, Crichton, Foran, Wakeham, Tolman, Marshall-King, Napa, Jackson, Faitala-Mariner, Elliott
Interchanges: Holland, Britt, To’omaga, Sue
Tries: Montoya, Faitala-Mariner
Goals: Meaney (1/2)
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Mitchell, Gagai, Graham, Roberts, Johnston, Walker, Reynolds, Tatola, Cook, Burgess, Su’A, Lowe, Murray
Interchanges: Knight, Sele, Burns, Mago
Tries: Johnston, Su’A, Walker, Gagai
Goals: Reynolds (4/4)
Referee: P. Gough
Touch Judges: M. Noyen, Z. Przeklasa-Adamski
Video Referee: B. Galea
Image Source: @NRL (Twitter)