Fulltime: CANTERBURY 32 SOUTH SYDNEY 8 TWO clubs heavily sanctioned over the past decade for salary cap breaches will meet in the 2012 NRL grand final. Canterbury, who were leading the competition when stripped of all their points in 2002 for hiding under-the-counter payments to players, qualified for next Sunday’s decider by beating South Sydney 26-8. They meet Melbourne, stripped of the 2007 and 2009 titles, secured their place in the ANZ Stadium showdown by beating Manly on Saturday. The turning point in the second preliminary final was South Sydney halfback Adam Reynolds tearing a hamstring 14 minutes before halftime. Canterbury scored two tries between then in the break, including one possible eight-pointer when Sam Burgess was ruled to have challenge Sam Perrett late. It was Canterbury’s 15th win from their previous 16 starts. Three players – Richie Fa’aoso, Krisnan Inu and Sam Perrett – will play in the decider after switching clubs mid-season. Greg Eastwood scored on the bell. Who kicked that goal? 32-8.
70 min: Can we say the Bulldogs are running the clock down now? Probably not. But they are home and taking no risks. having been at both preliminary finals this weekend, my favourites are the Bulldogs. Even if Adam Reynolds had stayed on the field, I believe Canterbury have showed enough to indicate they would have won anyway. Tenth grand final since 1980 – pretty remarkable effort. 26-8.
60 min: The Bulldogs are putting the bunnies to sleep now. Greg Eastwood roars into the clear, passes to Frank Pritchard who kicks out of the remaining defence and scores to the left of the posts. Inu converts. Josh Reynolds has a shoulder injury which will be the subject of speculation this week. 26-8.
55 min: Sam Perrett tiptoes down the sideline. Does he put a foot on the chalkdust? I say not. It’s a try and it’s going to be a long way back for South Sydney now. Try awarded. It’s obvious that South Sydney are missing the last-tackle options of Adam Reynolds. Inu misses his sideline conversion attempt. 20-8.
53 min: Every indication that Souths are still in this game despite the absence of Adam Reynolds. But Canterbury’s confidence levels have risen enormously. Bunnies on the attack. 16-8.
HALFTIME: Canterbury 16 South Sydney 8. How to sum up that last three minutes? Ben Barba almost scores for Canterbury but runs into the back of team-mate Frank Pritchard. Sam Perrett finally gets the touchdown from a crossfield kick. Sam Burgess comes in late. Try. Canterbury trainer Tony Grimaldi placed reported to ground manager Peter Denny for abusing referee Ben Cummins. “He’s yelling at me as if he’s talking to Michael Ennis but he’s really yelling at me,” Cummins tells Denny. James Graham tells Cummins he can’t hear the onside instructions over the noise. Burgess’ challenge is judged to have been illegal. bad call in my view – there was very little impact. After Krisnan Inu misses the conversion, there’s a shot in front which gives the Bulldogs a 10-8 lead. With 10 seconds left in the half, Ben Barba kicks for Jonathan Wright to score in the south-eastern corner. This time Inu nails it from the sideline. Amid all this, the single biggest moment is Adam Reynolds leaving the field with hamstring injury in the 26th minute. They are unlikely to win without him. Issac Luke, dropped this month for going out when he shouldn’t have, has to be a hero if the odds are to be defeated. 16-8.
34 min: This game has just flown. Best game of the finals series, hands down, and best atmosphere since Origin. Greg Inglis held up over the tryline. Josh Morris now has a knock 4-8
28 min: The loss of one Reynolds leads to a possible try from the other. The little kick by Issac Luke wasn’t good. Adam Reynolds would normally have taken that kick. Canterbury goes the length. Greg Inglis pulls off a try-saver on Josh Reynolds. 4-8.
27 min: It’s fair to say the Bulldogs are not dominating this contest in the manor many expected them to do. Commentator Phil Gould says they are having trouble containing the Rabbitohs’ big men and it’s a sound observation, South Sydney have just forced a dropout. Adam Reynolds has done his hamstring. Nathan Peats is on. Issac Luke likely to be half. 4-8.
21 min: Josh Morris penalised for blocking on a kick-chase. It’s a controversial penalty, to say the least. “He ca’t go anywhere!” Canterbury skipper Michael Ennis argues. Reynolds the goal. 4-8.
16 min: How about those concussion rules, eh? Issac Luke cops it in the head from his New Zealand team-mate Greg Eastwood – he WAS falling – and the magic sponge works just as well as it always has. 4-6.
15 min: Good evening everyone. Dubious internet connection led to delayed kick-off from me but both teams out of the blocks much more quickly in front of a stadium that is pretty much full. Maybe only a couple of thousand empty seats. Canterbury spread the ball like the wind from the kick-off and Krisnan Inu scored after a challenge by Michael Crocker on Kris Keating that will bear looking at during the week. Crocker on report, Inu over and missed conversion. Ben Cummins wanted Shayne Hayne to go upstairs and check the try but he couldn’t hear him over the din. The referees are having communication problems. Issac Luke sneaks over from dummy half, Adam Reynolds goals, Souths in front. 4-6.
Final team lists:
CANTERBURY: Ben Barba; Sam Perrett, Josh Morris, Krisnan Inu, Jonathan Wright; Josh Reynolds; Greg Eastwood, Josh Jackson, Frank Pritchard, Sam Kasiano, Michael Ennis (c), Aiden Tolman. Res; James Graham, Dale Funicane, Corey Payne, David Stagg.
SOUTHS: Greg Inglis; Nathan Merritt, Chris McQueen, Dylan Farrell, Andrew Everingham; John Sutton, Adam Reynolds; Michael Crocker, Dave Taylor, Sam Burgess, Issac Luke, Luke Burgess. Res: Nathan Peats, Dave Tyrell, Eddy Pettybourne, Ben Lowe.
Referees: Shayne Hayne/Ben Cummins.