Round 23 Recap v Rabbitohs
South Sydney's late-season revival continued with a comfortable 28-14 win over the out-of-sorts Bulldogs who will be sweating on the fitness of departing five-eighth Josh Reynolds after he was forced from the field with a calf complaint.
Having finished with a bang last week, it didn't take the Rabbitohs long to pick up from where they'd left off with Bryson Goodwin strolling over untouched to give the hosts the lead inside six minutes.
Both sides missed golden opportunities to crack the line with Aaron Gray held up when he looked certain to score while Sam Burgess produced a terrific try-saver to deny Josh Reynolds at the other end.
That would prove to be the five-eighth's final involvement for the night with Reynolds forced from the field moments later with a calf injury.
The news got worse for Des Hasler's men when former Bulldog Damien Cook sliced through the markers and linked up with Alex Johnston to send the fullback to the top of the try-scorer list.
A penalty goal to Adam Reynolds pushed the lead out to 14 points before the Bulldogs strangely opted for a goal of their own after the half-time siren to open their account.
Having failed to trouble the defensive line in the first half, the Bulldogs turned to the air to start the second stanza and were immediately rewarded for their new tactic when Chase Stanley scooped up a loose ball to score under the posts.
However, that's about as good as it got for the Bulldogs as a Raymond Faitala-Mariner error from the next set gifted the Bunnies field position which Johnston gleefully accepted to claim his second of the evening.
Playing a free-flowing style of footy that has only appeared in patches this season, Souths moved further in front when Aaron Gray latched on to a bullet pass from his halfback to score his first try of 2017.
The Bulldogs managed to stem the bleeding when skipper James Graham burrowed over for his first try since 2015 only for Matt Frawley to spill the kick-off which led to Reynolds knocking over another gift two points.
Rabbitohs 28 (Alex Johnston 2, Bryson Goodwin, Aaron Gray tries; Adam Reynolds 6 goals) def. Bulldogs 14 (Chase Stanley, James Graham tries; Chase Stanley 3 goals) at ANZ Stadium. Half-time: 14-2. Crowd: 8,247