Rabbitohs smash lacklustre Bulldogs
The Bulldogs have slumped to their third loss on the trot to put serious question marks on their premiership credentials just a week out from the finals.
In a lacklustre performance that will surely worry players and fans alike, the Bulldogs were outclassed 28-10 by a South Sydney side playing for nothing more than pride.
Bulldogs skipper James Graham will face a nervous wait after being placed on report for lashing out with the boot after he took offence to what looked like a prowler tackle by countryman Sam Burgess.
The tension had been simmering between the pair all night, and although Graham's boot didn't appear to make contact with his fellow Englishman, the incident is sure to be scrutinised by the match review committee.
Teammate David Klemmer could also come under scrutiny for a shoulder charge late in the game, although the tackle was not put on report by the on-field officials.
Greg Inglis would have been desperately searching for the restart button after his bizarre error gifted the Bulldogs an early chance for points, and the blue and whites duly took up the offer with Josh Jackson barging over for a soft try after six minutes.
With greasy conditions taking expansive play out of the equation, the Rabbitohs turned to their own battering ram as a simple inside ball saw Sam Burgess crash through to level the scores 10 minutes later.
The Bulldogs' preference to not risk seven-tackle sets with kicks close to the line backfired badly 10 minutes from the break as a loose ball from Moses Mbye was scooped up by Joe Burgess who raced 85 metres to give his side the lead.
It was soft defence that cost the Rabbitohs early on, but the 2014 premiers showed steely resolve to repel their opponents for four straight sets just before the break to ensure they went into the sheds with a six-point advantage.
Adam Reynolds had the chance to settle down what had been a fiery start to the second stanza, but the Rabbitohs No.7 pushed a long-range penalty goal attempt wide.
The Bulldogs then had two chances in the space of three minutes to get back in the contest but were twice denied with Josh Morris failing to collect an Mbye grubber, before his centre partner Kerrod Holland bounced the ball as he attempted to ground a kick on the other side of the field.
It would be third time lucky as the blue and whites pounced to finally score off a kick; albeit from the boot of South Sydney as Reynolds blocked a kick by John Sutton and regathered the ball to sprint 75 metres and score despite the best efforts of Damien Cook.
Moses Mbye's attempted conversion sailed wide to keep the scores at 12-10, and Canterbury were suddenly forced to defend their line after Tom Burgess belted Danny Fualalo from the kick-off to force an error.
While they managed to hold them out on that occasion, they wouldn't be so lucky from the following set as a crabbing run from Aaron Gray ended with the Rabbitohs centre bursting through some feeble Tony Williams defence to score under the posts.
Playing like a team readying themselves for a premiership tilt, the Rabbitohs put the result beyond doubt four minutes from full-time as Gray sliced through from close range before Joe Burgess completed his double from the final play of the game.
Rabbitohs 28 (Joe Burgess 2, Aaron Gray 2, Sam Burgess tries; Adam Reynolds 4 goals) defeated Bulldogs 10 (Josh Jackson, Josh Reynolds tries; Moses Mbye goal) at ANZ Stadium. Half-time: 12-6 Rabbitohs. Crowd: 14,731 On report: James Graham (kicking).
Game on. Data off.
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