The Rabbitohs stunned the Bulldogs in their Easter weekend clash by winning 36-16, courtesy of a Damien Cook hat-trick.
The Bulldogs opened the scoring and were dominant to start the game, with Kyle Flanagan spotting winger Brent Naden in space to cross for an easy try.
As the end of the first half approached, the momentum changed completely after hooker Jeremy Marshall-King was booked for repeat infractions.
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Jason Demetriou’s men then scored four tries in 14 minutes, including two consecutive four-pointers from the Blues and Kangaroos hooker Damien Cook.
Cody Walker was able to find glimpses of his sizzling 2021 form in the second half, hitting Alex Johnston with a familiar cut pass to cross into the corner.
Minutes later after a scrum, Cook was probing the line, cutting the cross under the posts for his third to complete his first career NRL hat-trick,
With just four minutes remaining, outside back Isaiah Tass managed to cross the line, freeing an arm to smack the ball on his debut for the Rabbitohs to seal the dominating victory.
Read the top three hits from tonight’s clash below!!!
DUFTY APPLAUSES CRITICS
After a horror show against the Panthers in Round 5, Matt Dufty showed off his dynamic skills in a solid performance against the Rabbitohs.
The 26-year-old is currently playing for his future, going out of contract at the end of the 2022 season.
After heavy criticism of his performance last week, Dufty came out shooting, doubling his 41-yard run against the Panthers within 20 minutes of kickoff against the Rabbitohs.
Dufty didn’t register a single tackle break in the last round but finished the first half with 4.
“My God, this is a completely different Dufty than last week,” Fox League’s Dan Ginnane said as Dufty threatened the line.
One particular moment in the first half caught the eye of Fox League’s James Hooper.
Lock Josh Jackson charged down the line, popping the ball off his inside hip to a flying Matt Dufty who was desperately close to breaking the line.
Hooper explained that the former Dragons fullback was criticized for his lack of involvement in the offensive game against the Panthers, before explaining that the run was “big signs” for Bulldogs fans.
Although he struggled for possession late in the first half and throughout the second half, Dufty remained one of his team’s biggest threats up front.
“Nobody’s going to say Matt Dufty didn’t raise his hand for his team this week,” Ginnane said as Dufty looked threatening again late in the second half.
Dufty finished the game with an impressive 170 yards run, 17 carries and six tackle breaks, a stark contrast to his performance in Round 5.
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The early-season form of Rabbitohs star playmaker Cody Walker has been a major talking point when pundits discuss the South Sydney side.
Many have speculated that the loss of longtime partner Adam Reynolds may have contributed to his struggles through the first five rounds, while others have pointed to the Rabbitohs lacking outside backs.
But now Walker has hit back with a solid performance against the Bulldogs.
Walker recorded just nine yards running but added a try assist and a line-breaking assist, handling the ball 25 times – the most of any Rabbitohs player.
The elite five-eighth consistently had their heads held high, kicking deftly and putting their outside backs into space, having a big hand in Isaiah Tass’ first down.
“He probes, he tries different things,” Fox League commentator Steve Roach said.
“The longer the season goes, the better he will get.”
Reminiscent of the top-flight form that fans loved in Redfern’s 2021 club premiership run, Walker delivered a precise clipping pass to Alex Johnston to cross for his second down the left side of the pitch.
“Cody woke up and now we’re starting to see smiles on the Rabbitohs’ faces,” Fox League commentator Dan Ginnane said.
“Cody Walker, it was only a matter of time before he fought back… he couldn’t continue with the form he had at the start of the season, he’s such a good player,” Roach added.
“Nice double-cut pass from Cody Walker, he was always going to be too good to hold down,” said Fox League’s James Hooper.
“No assist tries led to this game, but now he’s opened the account.”
While hooker Damien Cook stole the show with a hat-trick, Rabbitohs fans will be delighted to see Walker’s resurgence begin.
BURTON CONTINUES TO FIGHT
Trent Barrett’s decision to introduce Kyle Flanagan into the halves had a specific purpose – to unlock Matt Burton.
The former Panthers premiership winner is lethal when heading the ball and can easily break the defensive line.
But in the first half against the Rabbitohs, Burton didn’t register a single point.
Flanagan was tasked with leading the ship after his selection in Round 5, a job that had gone to Burton in the first four rounds of 2022.
But now it looks like Flanagan has toned down Burton’s play, becoming the dominant playmaker in Trent Barrett’s side.
In the second half, Burton was moved to crosses after an injury to Braidon Burns and his impact did not increase.
After saying he would like to fill the vacant center spot of Latrell Mitchell at the NSW Blues side, Burton’s audition wouldn’t have turned Brad Fittler’s head.
The 22-year-old Dubbo product finished the game with 32 yards on four carries, but there was one bright spot in his round six performance.
Even when playing center, Burton held punting duties to finish the set, recording 305 kick counters in just eight kicks.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs host the Canterbury Bulldogs in a Good Friday clash at the Accor Stadium.
The Rabbitohs will be without Latrell Mitchell with Blake Taaffe at the back, while the heat is on Cody Walker to end his slump in form.
Isaiah Tass is tipped to make his NRL debut from the bench with Davvy Moale making way.
For the Bulldogs, Corey Waddell is out with Chris Patolo entering the back row and Ava Seumanufagai joining the bench.
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Matt Dufty was retained at fullback despite his horror night last week against the Panthers while Kyle Flanagan gets a second straight start at fullback.
The Bulldogs have been a bit of a bogey for the Rabbitohs in recent years, so that sets the stage for a close encounter with both teams desperate to win to stay in touch with the top eight.
The Bunny Team: 1. Blake Taaffe 2. Alex Johnston 3. Taane Milne 4. Campbell Graham 5. Josh Mansour 6. Cody Walker 7. Lachlan Ilias 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Thomas Burgess 11. Keaon Koloamatangi 12. Jai Arrow 13. Cameron Murray 14. Hame Sele 15. Jacob Host 17. Liam Knight 19. Isaiah Tass 18. Siliva Havili
The Bulldogs Team: 1. Matt Dufty 2. Brent Naden 3. Braidon Burns 4. Jake Averillo 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Matt Burton 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Luke Thompson 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Paul Vaughan 12. Tevita Pangai Junior 13 Josh Jackson 15. Chris Patolo 14. Brandon Wakeham 16. Max King 17. Joe Stimson 23. Ava Seumanufagai 25. Corey Allan
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