BULLDOGS 15 RABBITOHS 14
The Bulldogs have seized on their third one-point victory in as many games after a dramatic come-from-behind 15-14 win over South Sydney on Friday at ANZ Stadium.
After beating the Warriors and the Roosters by field goals in recent weeks, the Bulldogs added South Sydney to that list when Trent Hodkinson kicked a 21-metre one-pointer in the 78th minute to break the deadlock.
While the Bulldogs always seemed likely throughout the second half, it looked as though their poor handling was going to cost them.
Adam Reynolds and Nathan Merritt had field goal attempts for South Sydney but it was left to Hodkinson to secure the victory for Canterbury. An injury-ravaged South Sydney side may have finished the first half without any replacements but they carried an eight-point lead at half-time in front of 43,255 fans at ANZ Stadium.
Forwards Kyle Turner (concussion), Apisai Koroisau (shoulder), Joe Picker (ribs) and Dave Tyrrell (concussion) left the field in the first half, leaving the Rabbitohs without any replacements for a short period. Greg Inglis sent a shudder through the Rabbitohs camp when he looked to have aggravated a lower-back injury midway through the second half, but the fullback played on.
Eventually, all but Koroisau returned to the field in the second stanza in a game where Englishmen Sam Burgess and James Graham starred for their sides.
Canterbury captain Michael Ennis was inspirational for his team, coming back from a sickening head cut to lift his side - particularly in defence - in the second half.
While round six ended in controversy when Melbourne scored an after-the-siren victory against St George Illawarra, it took 10 minutes for the match officials to again be under the microscope when they ruled a no-try to Canterbury winger Corey Thompson.
A Josh Reynolds cross-field kick eventually found its way to Josh Morris, who was ruled to have obstructed the Rabbitohs defence when he ran behind a teammate before throwing a 30-metre spiral pass to hit Thompson in the corner.
The video referees ruled Morris had run behind his own player and gained an advantage despite letting go of the ball quickly. The Rabbitohs were penalised for a similar offence in the first half, with that too looking like no defenders were disadvantaged.
A barnstorming Burgess scored the only first-half try in the 37th minute and Canterbury back-rower Dale Finucane was placed on report for two incidents, including a lifting tackle.
Mitch Brown scored Canterbury's first try of the match in the 53rd minute to have the Bulldogs trailing by eight. A poor defensive read by Merritt allowed Brown to cross out wide.
When Rabbitohs captain John Sutton muscled over the try line, his side looked certain for victory with 15 minutes remaining.
But a handling error by Jason Clark gifted the Bulldogs an attacking opportunity, and they seized the moment for Thompson to score four minutes later. From that restart, Bryson Goodwin spilt a regulation bomb, leaving Kirisome Auva'a no choice but to dive on the ball to prevent the Bulldogs players from picking it up.
That offside penalty allowed Hodkinson to draw the sides level before his boot again proved to be the match winner.