Coach Des Hasler was pleased with the effort but is concerned about their ball control.
We just havent had enough ball and when we do get it were just not using it right, Hasler said. We dug ourselves a bit of a grave in that first half but we fought hard but just couldnt get it back.
Hasler elected to once again swap Josh Jackson and Tony Williams with that being the only change to the side selected earlier in the week.
The Rabbitohs dominated possession in the opening 20 minutes with the Bulldogs struggling to get to the end of their sets on many occasions. After the Bulldogs were able to hold the home side early it was Rabbitohs Captain John Sutton who layed off a great pass to a flying Dylan Farrell who went over to open the scoring. It was a smart pass just off his left hip that sent Farrell through and the winger did the rest stepping back inside birthday boy Josh Morris to score. Halfback and kicker Adam Reynolds converted to give the Rabbitohs a 6-nil lead.
New Zealand international Frank Pritchard was placed on report in the 18th minute for a high shot on former Bulldog Bryson Goodwin. The back rower was deemed to have performed a shoulder charge and made contact with the head with the match review committee to have a look at it on Monday.
Just five minutes later Walker crossed for his second try, this time off the boot of Reynolds. The set was played up the middle before the halfback put the defensive line of the Bulldogs in two minds and with that he put it in behind centre Tim Lafai and the winger did the rest getting the ball down on his second attempt. Reynolds again converted to put the lead out to two converted tries, 12-nil.
A high shot from interchange forward Tony Williams on the Rabbitohs forward gave the home side an opportunity to extend their lead out beyond 12 points with Matt Cecchin blowing the penalty just 31m out from the Bulldogs line. Reynolds chose to take the shot at goal and converted with the lead now 14-nil after 36 minutes.
The Bulldogs earned a penalty 40m out from their own line with just three minutes on the clock and after Trent Hodkinson found touch, the attacking set started from 25m out. On tackle four James Graham took the ball one off the ruck before sending it out the back to Josh Reynolds who then summed up the play and chose to throw a long cut-out pass to Sam Perrett out on the right wing who went over untouched to score his ninth try in the last six games and his 17th of the season. Hodkinson converted with the Bulldogs going to the break trailing by just eight points, 14-6.
It was all the Bulldogs to open the second half and left winger Mitch Brown went over for his 10th try of the season in the 48th minute. It was a play that seemed to have stopped but when Hodkinson picked up the loose ball and shifted it to the left with Pritchard straightening it up before getting it out to Lafai and then on to Brown who went over. Hodkinson couldnt convert from the sideline with the score now 14-10 in favour of the Rabbitohs.
The Rabbitohs answered straight back in the 52nd minute through Issac Luke. It was Greg Inglis who made the bust up the middle of the park and as the defence came across in cover he got the ball away to Luke who then went the remaining 25m to score. Reynolds converted to make the score 20-10.
Off the back of an Inglis error the Bulldogs got one back with Dene Halatau crossing for his second try of the year. It was a Graham short ball to Halatau that sent him through and Inglis looked to have brought him down but the interchange forward came down on his back and managed to twist round to score. Hodkinson converted to make the score 20-16.
Again the Rabbitohs answered straight back with Luke Keary and Inglis orchestrating the Rabbitohs fourth try of the night. The pair got the ball away each as they were about to be brought to ground and that sent Goodwin across to score. Reynolds again converted to make the score 26-16.
In the 71st minute Brown crossed for his second of the night off the back of some good work from Captain Michael Ennis and centre Tim Lafai. The pair pressed forward and had the Rabbitohs defence reeling and from the next play, the hooker got the jump out and passed in on to Brown who forced his way over. Hodkinson couldnt convert, leaving the score at 26-20.
On the stroke of full-time the Rabbitohs were handed a penalty from directly in front and Reynolds took the shot at goal, converting to make it 28-20 when the siren sounded.
RABBITOHS 28 (Farrell, Walker, Luke, Goodwin Tries; Reynolds 6 Goals)
BULLDOGS 20 (Perrett, Brown 2, Halatau Tries; Hodkinson 2 Goals)
At: ANZ Stadium