Criticised at times by fans, Canterbury Bulldogs five-eighth Josh Reynolds came to the party, producing an 80-minute, man-of-the-match masterclass to steer his side to a comfortable 24-9 win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Early on, both teams seemed to struggle with their execution in attack but it was some darting runs and deft plays by Reynolds that continued to expose the Bunnies left-side defence.
The difference in the end, Reynolds was simply too good for a Bunnies side that is left scratching their head as to how they can become more efficient in attack.
The first two tries of the game were down to individual brilliance – a show of acceleration by Souths fullback Alex Johnston to sprint away and score. The second – with Johnston going from hero to zero – the result of sheer determination by Josh Reynolds to ground the ball before it went over the dead-ball line.
At the break, Souths led 9-8 after Adam Reynolds opted for a field goal.
Souths had their opportunities in the second half but had two tries disallowed for obstruction, as well as being held up over the line numerous times.
In the end, it cost them, as Reynolds produced another break resulting in a try for back-rower Josh Jackson, before Josh Morris joined the scoresheet.
With continued speculation regarding his future, Reynolds produced a brilliant display and Dogs coach Des Hasler says the club are talking to him to retain him.
“We’re in negotiations with the young man. I said last week it’s very positive and things are progressing,” Hasler said.
But of the try-saver he added: “That’s the type of player he is. He’s a big part of what we’re about. His brand is pretty important because that’s how the side plays.”
One player part of the recent Bulldogs resurgence has been Matt Frawley – who many fans want to see starting – and despite a quieter game last night, he was still praised by Hasler.
“It just gives us a little bit more versatility,” Hasler said.
“Particularly with injury but also the HIA with the head rule now, last year we were having to shuffle players around and it was usually poor old ‘Jacko’ (Josh Jackson) that was being moved to centre or out to wing.”
Souths coach Michael Maguire lamented his side’s missed opportunities, knowing how the momentum would have changed had they capitalised on them.
“We were definitely well and truly in positions to be able to take the game,” Maguire said.
“It takes every moment of 80 minutes to make sure you capitalise on opportunities. We unfortunately didn’t capitalise and allowed them to stay in the game… whether it’s an individual or key moments in games whether it’s penalties, all those sorts of things, it’s a game that you’ve got to be live for 80.”
Player of theGame:
3. Josh Reynolds
2. Brenko Lee
- James Graham
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 24 (J Reynolds, Jackson, Holland, J Morris tries; Holland 4 goals) defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs 9 (Johnston try; A Reynolds 2 goals; A Reynolds field goal) at ANZ Stadium. Half-time: Rabbitohs 9-8. Crowd: 35,984.