The Bulldogs continued to build momentum in their remarkable 12-game winning streak as they took care of South Sydney 23-18 in wet conditions at ANZ Stadium in Round 13.
A clash of the competition heavyweights saw Souths burst out of the blocks with two tries in the opening 15 minutes giving them an early 12-0 lead. The first saw a superb interchange of passing on the left edge hand Justin Hunt a saloon passage to the try-line while the second was all about big Dave Taylor as he burst through before stepping past Ben Barba to score underneath the black dot.
However, a clash of the English giants saw the game turn on its head as Rabbitohs forward Sam Burgess locked horns with his Test team-mate James Graham. Burgess was penalised for raising his forearm during the scuffle and from the ensuing set the Bulldogs opened their account with a Barba cut-out pass gifting Krisnan Inu a try.
Moments later they were in again thanks to some clever finishing from Jonathan Wright out wide and when Ben Barba collected a Josh Reynolds chip to score alongside the posts, the Bulldogs had turned a 12-0 deficit into an 18-12 half-time lead in the space of just nine minutes.
Souths hit back to level the scores again 12 minutes into the second half when Dylan Farrell produced a stunning put-down after chasing through a John Sutton grubber; however after a tight 20 minutes of action it was a surprise hero that came to the fore for Canterbury as Krisnan Inu booted a 30-metre field goal with six minutes remaining to give his side the lead.
Then came the play of the game. With the clock counting down, Burgess broke through down the left edge and sent Farrell away for what looked like the match-winning try… until Barba came screaming across and produced a miraculous try-saving tackle with Farrell’s boot touching the sideline a millisecond before he slid over the stripe.
David Stagg put the icing on the cake with a last-minute try to secure a 23-18 win.
Despite the difficult conditions, the Bulldogs produced 10 offloads to Souths’ five while completing their possessions at 71 per cent compared with 67 per cent for the Bunnies.
Their better control saw them make 47 fewer tackles than Souths as they enjoyed a 55 per cent share of the ball.
James Graham was particularly impressive for the home side with 155 metres and 31 tackles while Greg Inglis again starred for the Rabbitohs with 178 metres from 16 runs and five tackle-breaks.