By Lars Roy
The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have posted their first win of the 2015 VB NSW Cup season after defeating the New Zealand Warriors 26-18 in a see-sawing affair that saw six lead changes throughout.
Both sides were tentative within the first 10 minutes of the match, however, they gained confidence when offloads began to stick, which resulted in half-breaks. The Bulldogs were the beneficiaries of a Damien Cook bust, which resulted in the first try of the match to left centre Levi Dodd just moments later.
Matt Frawley spotted space on the edge, timing his pass well to Dodd who only had to fall over the tryline. The conversion attempt by Chase Stanley was waved away, which left the score at 4-0 after 14 minutes.
The Warriors, however, were given chances in attacking field position but the boys from Belmore stood strong in defence, showing real desperation on their own tryline.
Mounted pressure by the Warriors did eventually take its toll on the Bulldogs, when a ricocheted grubber by Siliva Havili found its way in the arms of Upu Poching, who was too strong from close range to be denied. Api Pewhairangi successfully converted the try, which gave the Warriors the lead at 6-4.
Just when it looked like the Warriors were going to go back-to-back, Corey Thompson came up with a one-on-one strip within his own-in-goal. Before anyone was aware as to what had just taken place, the speedy fullback had already made it to halfway before being run down from behind.
The Bulldogs crossed for their second try on the back end of the set, again courtesy of a Matt Frawley assist. A pin-point kick from the five-eighth found a high-flying Jarrod McInally who still had a lot of work to do before grounding the ball for a four-pointer. Stanley was unsuccessful yet again, however, the Bulldogs had regained the lead with the score at 8-6 just five minutes before half-time
A costly Bulldogs penalty from the kick-off resulted in a quick reply by the visitors, who also crossed for their second try of the match. Api Pewhairangi scored the simplest of tries after a decoy run allowed him to stroll over untouched. He converted his own try, which bumped the Warriors’ lead to four points at the break.
It only took five minutes for the Dogs to post first points of the second half, this time through Lindon McGrady, who bumped off an ordinary attempted tackle. Stanley was successful with his third attempt on goal, giving the hosts a two-point lead.
Warriors centre and veteran George Carmont proved he still had sharp footwork when he crossed for a try of his own in the 57th minute.
Despite both teams being guilty of poor ball security and ill-discipline, the Warriors were by far the worst, squandering almost every attacking chance they had in the last quarter.
As a result, Canterbury’s big men David Minute and Danny Fualalo stepped up another gear through aggressive defence. Although still trailing on the scoreboard, this definitely lifted their team.
Tyrone Phillips squared up the game at 18 apiece after crossing in the corner, courtesy of a McGrady cut-out pass in the 68th minute. Stanley converted from the sideline to regain the two-point lead they had at the start of the second half.
Corey Thompson sealed the win for the Dogs with another try, this time right on full-time, thanks to a great offload close to the line by Shaun Lane. Stanley made no mistake from bang in front, which left the final score at 26-18 Bulldog victors.
CANTERBURY BULLDOGS 26 (C Thompson, T Phillips, L Dodd, J McInally, L McGrady tries; C Stanley 3 goals) d WARRIORS 18 (U Poching, A.Pewhairangi, G.Carmont tries; A.Pewhairangi 3 goals)