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Wighton double helps Rabbitohs open their 2024 account

The Rabbitohs have held off a determined Bulldogs challenge to come away with a much-needed 20-16 victory at Accor Stadium on Friday afternoon.

With star recruit Jack Wighton bagging a double and running for 131 metres, the Rabbitohs made it six wins a row in the traditional Good Friday clash.

On the back of a penalty against Reed Mahoney for late contact on Latrell Mitchell after a clearing kick, it was the Rabbitohs scoring first through Thomas Burgess in the ninth minute. Latrell Mitchell converted for a 6-0 lead.

Four minutes later the Rabbitohs had a second when Wighton powered through a Jacob Kiraz tackle from close range, finishing off a set that began inside their own red zone with Mitchell putting Alex Johnston away with a great offload in traffic.

A mistake by Matt Burton at dummy half in the 21st minute handed the Rabbitohs another opportunity but a couple of poor passes brought the movement unstuck and the Dogs held on.

Thomas Burgess Try

Come the 25th minute and the Bulldogs hit back when Viliame Kikau put Josh Addo-Carr into space and Burton supported on the inside to post his first try of the season.

A huge 40-20 kick by Burton seven minutes before the break put the Bulldogs in range and they came up with a pearler of a try through Connor Tracey courtesy of a Blake Taaffe chip kick. Burton converted from touch to put the blue and whites up 12-10.

Matt Burton Try

On the stroke of half-time Addo-Carr launched himself at the corner but was denied by a last-ditch tackle from Isaiah Tass, with Latrell Mitchell coming across in cover and making accidental contact with Addo-Carr's head.

The Bulldogs winger was motionless for several minutes on the ground and was ruled out of the game at half-time under the concussion protocols.

Five minutes into the second half the Rabbitohs regained the lead when Wighton put Johnston away with a neat flick pass and backed up to take the return pass and cross for his second of the day. 

The Bulldogs then had Jacob Preston leave the field for a HIA after he collected the shoulder of Shaquai Mitchell while attempting a front-on tackle on the Rabbitohs forward.

More drama for the Bulldogs in the 51st minute when Kurt Morrin was sin binned for a lifting tackle on Cameron Murray and two minutes later the Rabbitohs went up 18-12 through a penalty goal to Latrell Mitchell.

Kurt Morrin is sent to the bin

The Bulldogs were denied a try in the 63rd minute due to obstruction and from there both sides dug deep to deny their opposition before a penalty against the Dogs for touching a dropout before it had travelled 10 metres gave Latrell Mitchell the opportunity to make it 20-12.

A last-minute try to Tracey made it 20-16 and the Bulldogs had 20 seconds to conjure a miracle but Latrell Mitchell defused a Burton bomb and the Bunnies had done enough to keep the wolves from the door for at least a week.

Match Snapshot

  • South Sydney successfully used a Captain's Challenge in the eighth minute when the referee called a knock on against Taane Milne but the bunker ruled he had retained control. 
  • Bulldogs five-eighth Matt Burton produced a 40-20 kick in the 33rd minute.
  • Max King came up with an enormous first stint for the Bulldogs, running for 102 metres from nine hit-ups to go with 23 tackles.
  • The Rabbitohs completed at 100 per cent in the first half (16 from 16). They finished the match with 33 of 34 at 97 per cent.
  • The penalty count was 11-6 to the Bulldogs.
  • Connor Tracey racked up 193 run metres for the Bulldogs while Jacob Kiraz ran for 171 metres.

Jack Wighton Try

  • Rabbitohs second-rower Jacob Host made his 100th NRL appearance.
  • Bulldogs second-rower Jacob Preston left the field in the 46th minute for a HIA which he passed.
  • The Bulldogs lost their Captain's Challenge in the 48th minute when the Dogs claimed Dean Hawkins had played at a grubber kick but the bunker ruled he had not been playing at the ball.
  • Bulldogs interchange forward Kurt Morrin was put on report and sin binned in the 51st minute for a lifting tackle.
  • Keaon Koloamatangi ran for 165 metres and made 30 tackles for the Rabbitohs.
  • Rabbitohs winger Alex Johnston left the field in the 72nd minute with hamstring tightness.
  • Rabbitohs prop Shaquai Mitchell left the field for a HIA in the 55th minute which he failed.

Burton boots a 40/20

Play of the Game 

Forner Rabbitoh Blake Taaffe came up with a moment of magic in the 34th minute to send Connor Tracey over in the corner and put the Bulldogs in front. Taaffe showed great footwork to avoid the rushing defence of Jack Wighton and then put a chip kick on a dime for Tracey to regather and score.

Connor Tracey Try

What They Said

"I was really proud of the tryline defence. To keep turning up the way we did. I've got a huge amount of trust in these blokes. I see every day how they work and how committed they are to each other and we just wanted to see that out on the field and I think we saw that tonight. We just kept finding a way and we'll get a lot out of that. Our leaders know where we need to get better and it was all about effort tonight and I think we saw that in spades. It was a typical Good Friday game, it was brutal and it was end to end." - Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou

Rabbitohs: Round 4

"In this corresponding match last year we wouldn't have dealt with that too well [going down 10-0 early]. So to get on with the job and come back stronger in the second period of the first half, some really pleasing signs. We're a team that has a lot of effort at the moment and that's a massive improvement on where we've been, but at some stage we are going to need to execute better. To lose 'Foxx' on the stroke of half-time was quite disappointing and we had to come up with a few personnel changes." - Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo

Bulldogs: Round 4

What's Next

Round 5 sees the Rabbitohs host the Warriors at Accor Stadium on Saturday while the Bulldogs look set to be without Josh Addo-Carr when they face the Roosters at the same venue a day earlier.

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.