Rabbitohs win controversial thriller
A controversial 79th minute penalty goal from Bryson Goodwin has given South Sydney a dramatic 18-17 victory over the Bulldogs in an epic grand final re-match at ANZ Stadium on Friday.
Exactly one year after Bulldogs halfback Trent Hodkinson nailed a game-winning one-pointer in the corresponding fixture, the home side looked to have exacted some grand final revenge when Hodkinson repeated his clutch heroics in the 77th minute.
His chance only came after Tom Burgess knocked the ball on in the in-goal from the kickoff, which was preceded by a game-levelling long range penalty goal from Adam Reynolds from 45 metres out.
But with a minute remaining, skipper James Graham was penalised for dangerous contact on Reynolds' 35m field goal attempt that handed Goodwin a shot at goal in front of the sticks.
In front of a crowd of 40,523, the Bulldogs dominated almost the entire first half, scoring first through Curtis Rona – his sixth try in five games – when he showed good composure to pick up a loose Hodkinson pass in the 7th minute to beat Greg Inglis in a race to the corner.
Wing partner Sam Perrett extended the lead in the 14th, showing similar poise to field another grassed pass – this time from Josh Jackson – to burrow over on a right side shift. Hodkinson's sideline conversion gave his side a commanding 10-0 lead.
The Rabbitohs were caned 4-1 early in the penalty count, ill-discipline pinning them deep inside their territory and they were forced into making double the amount of tackles in the game's first quarter.
The game went into a holding pattern as possession levelled out, before it turned sharply one minute from the break on Luke's controversial eight-point try that also ended in Josh Morris being put on report for dangerous contact. The Rabbitohs hooker never returned.
However the contentious decision failed to deter the home side, who made the most of another slow start to the half from their counterparts by putting Josh Morris on the end of a clever Josh Reynolds dink behind the line in the 52nd minute.
Still, the visitors kept themselves in the contest when a 59th minute Adam Reynolds' grubber ricocheted right into the arms of prop David Tyrell and again reduced the deficit to two.
A 74th minute penalty to the Rabbitohs gave Reynolds a chance to level the scores from 45 metres out, and the NSW halfback contender duly stepped up and hit it.
Rabbitohs second-rower Glenn Stewart had an early night after coming off with concussion caused by some friendly fire from George Burgess in the 56th minute, while Bulldogs prop David Klemmer was also sin binned for dissent in the 79th.
South Sydney 18 (Issac Luke, Dave Tyrell tries; Adam Reynolds 4, Luke Goodwin goals) def Canterbury-Bankstown 17 (Curtis Rona, Sam Perrett, Josh Morris tries; Trent Hodkinson 2 goals, field goal). Crowd: 40,523. Halftime: 10-8.