Dragons Take the Two over the Dogs


The Canterbury Bulldogs and the St George Illawarra Dragons took to ANZ Stadium to for the last game of the long weekend on the Queen's Birthday, with both teams wanting two points for completely different reasons. The Bulldogs have been seen as perennial strugglers throughout 2018, with only three wins on the board while the Dragons were looking to go back to the top of the premiership ladder with the Penrith Panthers.

The Bulldogs, coming off the bye last week made a few changes to the team named on Tuesday. Rhyse Martin was dropped to ISP Cup after missing a training session earlier in the week, with Clay Priest coming onto the bench. David Klemmer was also moved to the bench in a move after his Origin performance, with Renoof Toomaga moving into the starting side.

The Dragons, also coming off a bye week made some changes to their named line up on Tuesday. Jason Nightingale was dropped to the bench, with Kurt Mann moving into the starting line up. Jacob Host moved onto the bench in the other change.

The Dragons had the bulk of the possession in the first half and they got off to a flying start, with two tries in the first ten minutes of the game. Euan Aitken would get over the try line in the first three minutes, with a lovely wraparound play ending up in his hands for the centre to barrel over. Gareth Widdop would miss the conversion to leave it at 4-0.

Seven minutes later, Tariq Sims would burst through a couple of tackles and manage to get the ball grounded in goal despite the best efforts of the Bulldogs defense to hold the second rower up. Widdop would miss his second conversion attempt of the afternoon to make it 8-0.

The Bulldogs would hit back eight minutes later thanks to some second phase play from Matt Frawley and Adam Elliot. The former would set up the latter, with Elliot barraging his way over the line close to the posts. Moses MBye would convert to leave it at 8-6 and evenly poised heading into the final 20 minutes of the first half.

The Dragons would get the last say heading into half time, with it a similar play  to the first try as Tim Lafai and Matt Dufty created a wraparound play to send a flying Nene MacDonald over in the left corner of ANZ Stadium. Gareth Widdop would convert to make it 14-6 heading into the break. 

Half time came and went, with the Bulldogs coming out of the blocks quickly. Brett Morris scooted out of dummy half and offloaded inside to a flying Moses MBye, who was ankle tapped ten metres out. Kurt Mann was lucky not to be caught holding Matt Frawley back, however the very next play Josh Jackson grubbered through for Will Hopoate to score. Moses MBye would miss the conversion from the right sideline to leave it at 14-10, however it would not matter.

The follow up set, the Bulldogs went the length of the field to then kick across for Brett Morris. The ball would bounce off Kurt Mann and Morris would just beat Euan Aitken to the loose ball in order to make it a tied game. MBye would make no mistake this time from the opposite sideline to make it 16-14 in favour of the Bulldogs for the first time in the game.

It would be end to end action for the next ten minutes, with the Dragons getting a penalty just to the left of the sticks, 15 metres out. As is becoming the norm with most teams this season, the Dragons would take the two points with Gareth Widdop sending the penalty goal through to tie the game at 16-16 with 23 minutes left.  

Ten minutes later, Aaron Woods would give away another penalty after a dog shot on James Graham after he passed the ball to Ben Hunt. The Dragons, with the shot on offer from right in front, took the two and Widdop converted to make it an 18-16 game for the Dragons with 13 minutes to go.

Both teams would go close, with the Bulldogs applying a ton of pressure to the Dragons goal line defense. Jeremy Marshall-King would then throw an intercept to give the Dragons the chance to seal the game, only for Gareth Widdop to throw a forward pass just 10 metres out. The Bulldogs would get a chance down the right side with Marcelo Montoya, only for Matt Dufty to take the winger out and set up a frantic last 4 minutes.

In that 4 minutes, the Bulldogs would force a line drop out through Josh Jackson and force a scrum with just 5 seconds left. Off the play, the Dogs would kick for Brett Morris but it would come ini vain as the Dragons just held on for a 18-16 win on the road. The Bulldogs are back at Belmore on Saturday night against the Titans while the Dragons are in Wollongong to take on the Sea Eagles.

Luke

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