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Sexton sizzles in club debut as Dogs beat Rabbitohs

Mid-week signing Toby Sexton made an instant impact for his new club on Saturday night, helping the Bulldogs survive a late scare from the Rabbitohs to record a 36-32 win. 

After joining from the Titans on Tuesday, Sexton sparked a Bulldogs attack which in the 16 games prior had averaged just 15.8 points scored per game, making two line breaks and running for 123 metres, in addition to saving a likely try with a desperate kick retrieval in the final minute.  

Perhaps more importantly though, his presence and direct style of play appeared to free up star half Matt Burton, who in turn enjoyed arguably his best game of the year.

In just the fourth game of his career, winger Blake Wilson scored a hat-trick, while Jake Averillo starred at fullback, with two try assists and three line-break assists. 

The Bulldogs rallied to pick up their sixth win of the year despite the efforts of Rabbitohs fullback Blake Taaffe who was excellent at Accor Stadium, scoring a pair of tries, breaking seven tackles and almost single-handedly dragging his team back into the contest. 

After establishing a 36-22 lead with 10 minutes to go, the Dogs appeared to be home safe before South Sydney scored twice in two minutes to get within a try at the death. 

Absolute scenes!

It was a fitting end to a game which was frantic from the start.

Thomas Burgess and Wilson scored converted tries inside the first eight minutes before there was a long break in play while Ryan Sutton was taken from the field on a medicab, following a shoulder charge which saw Taane Milne sent to the sin bin and placed on report. 

Milne sent to the bin

Sutton was later sent to hospital for scans on his neck.

When play resumed it was the Dogs who took control, with Tevita Pangai Junior charging down a kick to secure field position for Wilson's second, before skipper Reed Mahoney grabbed his side's third two minutes later to give the Dogs a 18-6 lead. 

Tyrone Munro then scored his second try in as many career games, before Jacob Kiraz struck back to re-establish a 12-point advantage which the Bulldogs took to the break. 

South Sydney protected their line brilliantly through the opening exchanges of the second half as the Bulldogs peppered their line, but eventually the pressure told and Ethan Quai-Ward marked his NRL debut with a try in the corner.

Taaffe burned the Dogs' edge defence minutes later to bring his side back within two scores, but it was somewhat undone when Richard Kennar was pinged for being offside following a scrum and Burton kicked a penalty with 15 to play. 

Taaffe too quick

Wilson's third 10 minutes from time looked to have sealed the result, before the Rabbitohs ran in quickfire tries to Munro and Tallis Duncan which set up a thrilling final two minutes. 

Earlier in the match a member of the crowd was removed from the stadium after Burton had a laser pointed at his face while attempting a conversion. 

Match Snapshot 

  • The Bulldogs scored over 30 points in a match for the first time since Round 19 last year. 
  • Ryan Sutton was sent to hospital for scans after leaving the field on a medicab, following a tackle which saw Taane Milne placed on report and sin-binned for a shoulder charge. 
  • As it resulted from foul play, the loss of Sutton activated Canterbury-Bankstown's 18th man Jeral Skelton, who came on in the 63rd minute to make his NRL debut. 
  • Between both sides there were 17 line breaks in the game. 

Souths still in it

  • The Bulldogs offloaded 16 times to South Sydney's six. 
  • The Rabbitohs were missing Cody Walker, Cameron Murray, Keaon Koloamatangi and Damien Cook, with all four out on Origin duty. 
  • Bulldogs forward Raymond Faitala-Mariner made his 100th appearance for the club in the match. 
  • The Rabbitohs have now won three from 12 without Cody Walker since his debut in 2016.

Play of the Game

A sight for sore eyes for Bulldogs fans as their side put on a flowing backline move, the type of which have been few and far between for Canterbury-Bankstown this year. New signing Toby Sexton and star half Matt Burton combined before debutant Ethan Quai-Ward delivered the final pass to fellow rookie Blake Wilson. 

Wilson gets his second

What They Said

"I said to the players that as a coach sometimes you are looking for moments in your season that define you, and I think that was one of those tonight. We had every reason not to fight and to find excuses, and we didn't do that. I thought some of our young players were outstanding." – Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou.

Rabbitohs: Round 19

"I really liked a lot of parts of our play. I liked that there was a lot more resilience to what we did, a lot more effort and intent to what we were doing. There was a lot I liked about it, but there is a lot we are going to have fix up moving forward. I loved a lot about what Burto (Matt Burton) did today, probably what everyone saw but a lot of off the ball stuff as well, especially his defence, I thought that was his best defensive game." – Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo. 

Bulldogs: Round 19

What's Next

The Rabbitohs get a timely week off with the bye next weekend, and when they return to face the Broncos in Round 21 they'll be a good of having Campbell Graham, Latrell Mitchell and Jai Arrow back from injury, while Jacob Host's suspension will be over too. The Bulldogs meanwhile will take on the Broncos back at Belmore Sports Ground on Saturday. 

Acknowledgement of Country

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs respect and honour the Darug and Eora nations, who are the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.