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Ben Barba made his much-hyped return from his off-field problems when the two sides went head to head in Round 4 this year, but it was South Sydney winning a high-quality contest 17-12 in front of more than 51,000 fans.

Taking some sort of revenge for their finals loss to the Bulldogs last year, Souths proved too strong during the middle stages although it was Canterbury making their presence felt early as a Josh Reynolds bomb earned them six more tackles and after putting the ball through the hands, Tony Williams managed to offload to an unmarked Mitch Brown to make it 6-0.

The Rabbitohs took some time to hit their straps but managed to level the scores shortly before the break when big George Burgess produced one of his trademark charges to crash over alongside the posts.

However, it was two brilliant pieces of play in the second half that decided the outcome of this one – the first an impromptu Adam Reynolds chip that saw Nathan Merritt race through to catch the ball on the full and score; the second from Merritt himself as he offloaded in traffic for Bryson Goodwin to cross.

A night that was starting to slip away went from bad to worse for the Bulldogs when Krisnan Inu was placed on report and later suspended for five games for a spear tackle on Greg Inglis; however they at least managed to give their fans something to cheer about right on full-time as Barba won the race to a long kick down-field to score his first try of the year.

Souths enjoyed 52 per cent possession, running for 1670 metres to Canterbury’s 1476 with Greg Inglis making 198 metres and Sam Burgess 185.

Bulldogs prop Aiden Tolman made 156 metres and 36 tackles.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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