By Nathan Beuman at Belmore Sports Ground
The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have handed the North Sydney Bears their tenth consecutive loss, downing the cellar dwellers 34-16 at Belmore Sports Ground.
In what was a back and forth contest for most of the match, it was the Bulldogs who kicked clear in the final 20 minutes, thanks largely to a hat trick from fullback Jaline Graham.
While each side had their opportunities to score in the opening quarter of the match, forward passes and penalties caused each of them to be called back.
It was the home side who finally broke the stalemate in the 20th minute, with prop forward Makahesi Makatoa popping the ball up into the waiting arms of Lindon McGrady, with the halfback diving over next to the uprights, before Pat Templeman converted to give the Bulldogs a 6-0 lead.
It took an individual piece of brilliance from Apisai Koroisau to level the score up six minutes later, with the late addition to the lineup using his footwork to open up space for winger Mark O’Dare, who ran 50 metres to score.
Koroisau capped off the play with a conversion from out wide, locking the scores up at six apiece.
Interchange player David Minute added to his highlight reel not long after, with the second-rower putting in a grubber kick for himself, before toeing it into the in-goal, where Jaline Graham grounded the ball to extend the Bulldogs lead to 10-6 after Templeman’s conversion was waved away.
It was North Sydney who hit back just after the break, with Curtis Johnston scoring on the Peter Moore Scoreboard side of the park, following an error from Canterbury at the back.
Koroisau was also unable to add the extras from the sideline, once again leaving the scores level at ten all with half an hour remaining.
Off the back of a break from Bulldogs second-rower Lachlan Burr, a quick play the ball opened up space out on the left edge, with Canterbury fullback Graham going over for his second of the afternoon, before Templeman converted to stretch the lead out to 16-10.
Despite North Sydney having a mountain of possession down the business end of the park towards the back end of the second stanza, the Bulldogs goal line defence was just too strong, denying the Bears on several occasions, before winger Drury Low scored in the corner, pushing Canterbury’s lead out to two converted tries with ten minutes remaining.
A late converted try to Koroisau closed the margin to six points, setting up an exciting final five minutes, however, tries to Graham and Low in the dying stages capped off a 34-16 win for the home side.
While the win will please coach Andy Patmore, the two competition points is a matter of too little too late, with the Bulldogs currently sitting ten points and a very poor for and against out of the top eight with four games remaining.
This weekend the Bulldogs face their bogey side in the Wyong Roos, whom they are yet to beat in three matches played while the Bears head out west to tackle the all-conquering Penrith Panthers.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 34 (J Graham 3, D Low 2, L McGrady tries; P Templeman 4, H Alaalatoa goals) def. North Sydney Bears 16 (M O'Dare, A Koroisau, C Johnston tries; A Koroisau 2 goals) at Belmore Sports Ground.