By Nathan Beuman at Belmore Sports Ground
The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have produced one of the finest comebacks of the 2014 season to force a 24 all draw against the Illawarra Cutters at Belmore Sports Ground.
Despite being down 18-0 after less than half an hour, the Bulldogs managed to score five of the last six tries of the match to pick up a point in front of their home crowd.
Boosted by the late inclusions of first graders Dylan Farrell, Jack Stockwell and Shane Pumipi, the Cutters shot out of the gates, with fullback Kyle Eather putting Geoff Daniela over untouched in the left corner, before Kyle Stanley slotted the conversion from the sideline to give the visitors an early 6-0 lead.
It didn’t take long for Illawarra to add to their tally, when Stanley exposed some poor marker defense, throwing a dummy before diving over for the easy try.
Stanley converted his own four pointer from just to the left of the uprights a minute later to push the Cutters lead out to 12-0 after 20 minutes.
Shannon Wakeman showed that he is fast becoming one of the best forwards in the competition with Illawarra’s next try, using his speed to get away from the fullback and score out wide.
Again Stanley continued his form with the boot, kicking the Cutters 18 points clear with still 12 minutes remaining in the opening half.
Just when it looked as though Illawarra were going to take a handy lead into the sheds, two quick tries from Tyrone Philips and Kayne Brennan pulled Canterbury to within eight points right on half time.
The Bulldogs started the second half in the same manner they ended the first, when Levi Dodd burned the Cutters markers to run 50 metres to score under the posts, bringing the home side to within two points with half an hour remaining following the conversion.
A quick exchange of passing between Sam Duggan and Joel Johnson resulted in an easy four pointer under the post for Johnson, pushing the Cutters out to 24-16 with 11 minutes remaining.
The Bulldogs backline showed just how dangerous they can be five minutes from full time when Dodd used his speed to get around Willie Mataka to score his second of the game and bring Canterbury to within four points after Lindon McGrady failed to locate the middle of the uprights.
It took a pin point kick via the boot of Nathan Massey and a perfectly timed leap from David Minute to level the scores up with only two minutes remaining, putting all the pressure on McGrady to win it for the Bulldogs, but unfortunately for the supporters in blue and white, the kick was waved away.
The point means that the Bulldogs pad the gap between them and the North Sydney Bears at the bottom of the competition table, while the Cutters second draw of the season sees them maintain 4th position thanks to a very healthy for and against.
The Cutters will head to North Sydney Oval on Saturday to face the North Sydney Bears while the Bulldogs head to Leichhardt Oval to tackle the Tigers.
Illawarra Cutters 24 (J Johnson, K Stanley, S Wakeman, G Daniela tries; K Stanley 3, S Duggan goals) drew with Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 24 (L Dodd 2, K Brennan, T Phillips, D Minute tries; P Templeman, L McGrady goals) at Belmore Sports Ground.