NRL: Bulldogs thrash Bunnies to reach final

Krisnan Inu scores for the Bulldogs as his side defeat the Rabbitohs to reach the Grand Final. Photo / Getty Images
Krisnan Inu scores for the Bulldogs as his side defeat the Rabbitohs to reach the Grand Final. Photo / Getty Images

Des Hasler closed in on coaching immortality as Canterbury took advantage of a hobbled South Sydney to book a grand final berth courtesy of a 32-8 preliminary final crushing at a packed ANZ Stadium.

A year after guiding Manly to a second premiership in four years, Hasler on Saturday night became the first man to coach different clubs to a grand final in back-to-back campaigns and will now take on a familiar foe in Melbourne mentor Craig Bellamy in next weekend's decider.

As good as the Bulldogs were in disposing of the Rabbitohs, they were helped no end by a hamstring injury that ended the night of rookie of the year Adam Reynolds after just 26 minutes - at which point Souths held a deserved 8-4 lead.

Without their playmaker, the Rabbitohs - in search of their first grand final since their last title in 1971 - capitulated as the Bulldogs poured on 28 unanswered points.

But there was no room for celebration within the Canterbury camp in front of 70,354 fans.

"It's an opportunity now - we can't just be happy to get there against a very, very good side ... obviously a very, very experienced at this time of year," Bulldogs skipper Michael Ennis said of the looming decider against melbourne.

Said Hasler, who will be involved in his fourth grand final in the past six seasons: It's a great result for this young side ... for that they've been rewarded with a grand final experience.

"They (the Storm) are the benchmark aren't they.

"They're a great club side ... they've been very clinical and they've played very well in the games they've had against South Sydney and then Manly last night."

The Bulldogs, too, were clinical but were always in the driver's seat from when Reynolds limped off after chasing what had been a precise kick into the Canterbury in-goal.

His departure had a two-fold effect; not only were the Bunnies without their one true organiser but their best player to that point, Issac Luke, was moved from the dummy-half position, from which he was causing havoc, to fill-in at first receiver.

"It obviously changed our structures of what we were going to play at them," Souths coach Michael Maguire said.

"I'm proud of what we've created here at the club, the direction we're heading as a club.

"... they did a great job out there tonight. It's just unfortunate losing your half."

The Bunnies had done well to get back into the game after having captain Michael Crocker placed on report for a high tackle and conceding a try to Krisnan Inu before they had even touched the ball.

Luke hit back with an immediate reply out of dummy half and, had Chris McQueen managed to hold onto a John Sutton offload, they could have been more dominant leaders.

But the four minutes before halftime broke South Sydney's back.

Sam Perrett scored his first off a pin-point Josh Reynolds kick, exacerbated by a penalty against Sam Burgess for going in with knees after the try.

The Englishman gave away another penalty which allowed Jonathan Wright to touch down seven seconds before the hooter.

It was always going to be a long road back from there and Perrett brilliantly tip-toed the sideline off a Greg Eastwood pass to score his second before the Kiwi international set-up countryman Frank Pritchard just before the hour for a match-winning 26-8 lead.

Eastwood finished the job himself with a try on fulltime.

- AAP

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