Dylan Walker scored a brace of tries as South Sydney opened their pre-season with a 28-20 win over Canterbury at a sun-soaked Belmore Sports Ground on Sunday.
Both sides used their first game of 2014 to field a number of players, with Souths coach Michael Maguire starting Luke Keary alongside Adam Reynolds in what could be his side’s starting halves pairing for the season opener against Sydney Roosters on March 6.
Souths were without big guns Greg Inglis, Ben Te’o, John Sutton and all four Burgess brothers, who are still in England following a family bereavement.
Josh Reynolds did not play for the Bulldogs.
It was the first game in the post-Ben Barba era for Canterbury, and Sam Perrett, Drury Low and Tyrone Phillips all spent time at fullback in a game that was played in four quarters and with an early-evening kick-off to combat the stifling 30C heat.
Low opened the scoring after seven minutes for the hosts, in front of a crowd of 5913, before Beau Champion and Walker crossed in quick succession to give the Rabbitohs the lead.
Sam Kasiano scored under the posts and the conversion levelled the scores, before Keary was denied a four-pointer when his diving effort following Reynolds’ pinpoint grubber kick was denied for obstruction.
In the second half, Des Hasler put out a second-string side but, almost immediately after the restart, prop Lloyd Perrett barged over from close range to give his side the lead.
Walker and Cameron McInnes then went over for the Rabbitohs in the third quarter, with Walker adding the extras before Corey Thompson raced in for Canterbury.
Chris Centrone added some extra gloss to the scoreline for Souths, whose new signing Lote Tuqiri played for 50 minutes.