Match reportFive things we learntAndrew Webster: Dogs will have to wait for revengeBulldogs fans facing life bans for throwing bottles at match officials as Adam Reynolds faces five months in the standsAs it happened: Bulldogs v Rabbitohs
South Sydney coach Michael Maguire was delighted with the victory over the Bulldogs but it has come at a heavy cost.
As well as halfback Adam Reynolds facing five months out with a serious knee injury, Rabbitohs back-rower Glenn Stewart and hooker Issac Luke suffered concussions in the 18-17 win, star fullback Greg Inglis injured his knee and young winger Alex Johnston suffered a suspected broken nose.
Canterbury were also counting the cost of battle with fullback Brett Morris hurting his hamstring in the dying stages and centre Tim Lafai copping a knee problem.
“The team had to find a lot of character today,” Maguire said.
“It was a real gritty game. We were down and out at times. We obviously had two off with concussion at one stage. I am proud of my players. We weren’t playing the way we would have liked. The boys kept staying at it and stuck by each other.
“The concussion is a very interesting topic now. With the new rulings, because he was concussed, he had to stay off. To lose a player, the game has to either look at whether they have someone on the sideline who can replace that player. That’s why I talk about the character of our team.” In one of the most extraordinary finishes in rugby league history, a controversial penalty against Graham cost the Bulldogs victory. Graham was fuming with the match officials after they penalised the Englishman for attacking the legs of Reynolds, who was trying to land a 45-metre field goal in the dying minutes to take the game into extra time.
The kings of clutch looked to have done it again when Trent Hodkinson slotted a field goal with three minutes remaining, only for controversy to overshadow the result. Earlier, it was an old-fashioned ambush, and for a change it wasn’t the premiers dishing it out.
The Bulldogs produced a brutal and relentless onslaught on their arch nemesis, stunning the Rabbitohs with a type of performance that has become synonymous with South Sydney under the Maguire regime.
But an error and a brain explosion from Canterbury in the space of 30 seconds turned the game, and Luke, on its head.
Luke, who missed last year’s grand final through suspension, ignited his team into action on the stroke of half-time, darting from dummy half to score.
But the moments leading up to the Rabbitohs rake planting the ball on the chalk would leave Luke in Disneyland, Josh Morris on report and then Adam Reynolds taking consecutive shots at goal.
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