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Dogs suffer worrying NRL loss to Souths

AAP logoAAP 2/09/2016 Steve Zemek

Canterbury have suffered a body blow just a week out from the NRL finals, going down to South Sydney 28-10 in a fiery affair at ANZ Stadium.

Des Hasler's men could sink as low as seventh after suffering their third straight loss in a worrying sign heading into next week's elimination final against Penrith.

Besides a brief period in the opening half, South Sydney - who finished an otherwise disappointing year with four wins on the trot - always looked in control.

After the Rabbitohs took a 12-6 halftime lead, tempers threatened to boil over with Dogs captain James Graham and Souths forward Sam Burgess involved in a heated confrontation.

Graham took offence to a "prowler tackle" and struck out with his boot at his fellow northern Englishman.

Graham didn't make contact but was put on report while Burgess escaped with a warning.

The Rabbitohs evened the scores at 6-6 after 17 minutes when Burgess burst through a couple of ordinary attempts at tackle for a soft try.

They went to the break up 12-6 after Joe Burgess scooped up a wayward Moses Mbye pass to run 80 metres untouched.

Graham did his best to fire up his side and for a moment they looked like they were coming home strong when Josh Reynolds stuck his leg out at a John Sutton kick and raced 80 metres to reduce the deficit to two.

But just as promise beckoned for the Bulldogs, a Thomas Burgess bone-rattler forced a Danny Fualalo turnover from the kick-off and Aaron Gray produced a brilliant solo effort to score in the middle of the field.

Gray and Joe Burgess would go on to notch doubles in the dying moments.

Bulldogs forward David Klemmer will have a nervous wait after what appeared to be a shoulder charge late in the game however he was not put on report.

There was also a suggestion a Bulldogs player threw a plastic water bottle from a huddle behind the goal posts as Rabbitohs prop Nathan Brown lined up to kick on fulltime.

While it wasn't clear who threw it, a bottle did appear to land on the ground in front of Brown and was not thrown from the stands.

Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire said while his side, who moved into 11th with the win, finished the season with a wet sail, they didn't belong in the top eight.

"The boys over the last month have definitely shown what they're capable of and feel they're not sure how to feel at this time," Maguire said.

"I'm really pleased with how my boys have found their game again. The way they defended tonight was some of the best defence they've shown all season and they've been showing that the last few weeks."

Graham declined to comment on the incident which saw him charged for allegedly striking out at Burgess but admitted he was concerned.

Hasler lamented his side's poor error rate and warned they would go out the back door next week unless they addressed it immediately.

"I think some of the unforced errors we came up with tonight, we're not going to be able to do them next week," Hasler said.

"Next week's sudden death but it's a new competition."

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