The Bulldogs' Kiwi connections helped seal the club a date in next week's Grand Final, as they downed a plucky Rabbitohs side in Sydney last night.
Kiwi internationals Krisnan Inu, Sam Perrett, Greg Eastwood and Frank Pritchard were all instrumental in the Bulldogs' five-try victory, which will see them meet the Storm in the "Big Dance" next Sunday.
Perrett bagged a double, while Inu and Pritchard both nabbed one each. Former international Eastwood was the real stand-out however, with the backrower scoring a try, setting up two tries and in the middle of everything creative the Dogs attempted.
Played in front of more than 70,000 fans at ANZ Stadium, the match had all the hallmarks of a classic encounter from the opening set when the Bulldogs made 89 metres and pressed early for points. Former Warrior Inu would deliever them - with a try in the right corner.
The Bunnies, bidding to make their first Grand Final since 1971 and with co-owner Russell Crowe watching in the stands, were able to answer quickly, with Kiwis hooker Issac Luke going over from close range after only eight minutes.
The Rabbitohs had the better of the first half but, after losing rookie halfback Adam Reynolds 26 minutes into the first half to a hamstring injury, had no reply to the minor premiers' free-flowing style of footy.
The Rabbitohs would suffer from the loss of Reynolds and his absence nearly cost them immediately. Inu made a slick break down the right touch, and got an stunning offload away to standoff Josh Reynolds.
However Bunnies superstar fullback Greg Inglis mangaged an impressive try-saving tackle on Reynolds to deny the minor premiers; an inside pass to star fullback Ben Barba however would have been a sure try.
The Bunnies pushed back, but despite all their hard work, it would be the Bulldogs who would head to into the break with the lead, and momentum, with two tries late on the half.
Perrett's first came in the right corner off a Michael Ennis cross field kick, with a late hit on the former Kiwis international winger earning the Bulldogs an 8-point try attempt - though Inu would miss the first.
Barba set up the second with a stunning left-footed grubber that would send Wright over.
The second half started with Doggies pressure, and it didn't let up. Perrett would claim his double after 55 minutes after receiving a clever Eastwood pass.
Eastwood would be the catalyst for Pritchard's four-pointer five minutes later as well, making a clever break in midfield and sending his compatriot though. He sealed the deal in the game's final seconds with a late try.
For the Rabbitohs, history still waits. For the Bulldogs, there is next week.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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