Canterbury turned Sunday night entertainers before South Sydney upped the ante in the final minutes to steal a 36-28 win in a thriller at Accor Stadium.
Latrell Mitchell starred for the Rabbitohs and provided the game-breaking moment when he sent Alex Johnston over for his second on the left edge with scores locked at 28-28 close to fulltime.
Johnston crossed for a third two minutes later to ensure the Rabbitohs snatched a win that throughout the evening looked as though the Bulldogs were on their way to causing an upset.
Both sides traded three tries each in the second half to set up a tied ball game before Johnston crossed for the third hat-trick of his season and 10th of his career.
It was a see-sawing contest to stay on theme with Sunday’s earlier matches with both sides taking turns in leading before the Rabbitohs snuck home.
Latrell with the no looker
The defeat was compounded for the Bulldogs with winger Josh Addo-Carr leaving the field with a glute problem around the same time the Rabbitohs started to come out on top.
The Rabbitohs struck first through Lachlan Ilias, who placed a pinpoint kick between Jake Averillo and Josh Addo-Carr to pluck the ball out of the air and get it down.
Canterbury hit back four minutes later when former Rabbitoh Braidon Burns made a successful return from a hamstring injury to beat Alex Johnston out wide to the line.
South Sydney set up a 16-10 lead when Cody Walker crossed through a Keaon Koloamatangi offload before Mitchell sent Johnston over on the left edge in a typical backline raid.
Mitchell enjoyed a personal battle with incumbent NSW centre Matt Burton throughout the evening, putting the Bulldogs five-eighth on his backside twice with ball in hand.
The Rabbitohs fullback then lit up Accor Stadium with a strong individual effort before Canterbury returned serve through Jake Averillo and Paul Vaughan to keep the game in the balance until the final minutes.
Casey bust leads to Averillo try
- Rabbitohs winger Alex Johnston scored the 10th hat-trick of his NRL career. His treble lifted his numbers to 77 tries at Accor Stadium in 78 appearances.
- Johnston also made it 10 tries in six games against the Bulldogs.
- Bulldogs forward Raymond Faitala-Mariner was placed on report for dangerous contact on Rabbitohs prop Mark Nicholls.
- Canterbury lost Josh Addo-Carr to a glute problem.
- The Rabbitohs have now won nine of their past 11 games against the Bulldogs.
- Bulldogs prop Paul Vaughan scored the first try of his career at the club ahead of his departure to the Super League next year.
- Latrell Mitchell set up three tries in the win and finished the match with a game-high 12 tackle busts.
- South Sydney prop Tevita Tatola ran for 234 metres in the victory which included a try and five tackle busts.
- Bulldogs halfback Kyle Flanagan set up three of his side’s tries.
- The Bulldogs made 20 offloads to South Sydney’s 15 while both sides completed around 76% for the match.
Play of the game
Latrell Mitchell’s freakish solo effort in the second half ensured the Rabbitohs were never really out of the game despite Canterbury’s threats throughout the evening. His efforts to link with Kodi Nikorima and score a try was a statement that should shake the rest of the competition.
Latrell makes a statement
What they said
“I knew the threat that Souths brought and they did exactly what we thought they’d do. They executed really well and we just couldn’t slow them down and couldn’t stop them. I thought our boys played some good footy to counter and scored five tries but the problem is they scored seven and that’s too many. We did improve our defence a little bit in patches but again the game is 80 minutes and we’ve got to be more resilient.” – Bulldogs coach Mick Potter
“I thought for us to game back from behind several times in the game showed where this team is going and we’ve got some pretty important players come back into the team next week which will raise the bar again. With no Cameron and Cook we needed Latrell and Cody to stand up and when we were behind Latrell was the bloke who was pushing through that middle third and that’s what you want from your leaders.” – Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou
NRL Press Conference: Bulldogs v Rabbitohs – Round 18, 2022
South Sydney return to Accor Stadium for a round 19 blockbuster against a Storm side reeling after the season-ending knee injury to Ryan Papenhuyzen and who are staring down the barrel of four consecutive losses.
The Rabbitohs will have Damien Cook back on deck while they’ll be hoping Cameron Murray is also cleared to play after his concussion in Origin III.
For the Bulldogs, they’ll shift their next home game to CommBank Stadium for a clash with the struggling Titans.