A scintillating performance by Bulldogs halfback Jaline Graham gave his side an explosive start against the North Sydney Bears in last week’s elimination final, paving the way for a 22-4 victory.
Graham made three line-breaks, scored the opening two tries, threw two offloads, ran 77 metres and made 21 tackles to help his side advance into Week Two of the VB NSW Cup Finals Series, and can attribute his form and performance to a mid-season shift from fullback to halfback.
“Yeah [I was at fullback], but I’m at halfback now. It’s just a different point of the game, and [Bulldogs coach Andy Patmore] wanted me to push up in the front line and have more of a role there,” said Graham.
“It’s more of a leading role, so I’m loving it up the front there – but it’s been tough.”
While his statistics certainly reflect his individual performance on the weekend, the Padstow Panthers junior was quick to credit the work of his forward pack that allows him to set up and score tries.
“The game was good, just our forward pack – they get our go forward and it makes our backs job really easy,” said Graham.
“The boys just make my job a lot easier, just to push off them. I’m having a great time out there.”
The Bulldogs put on a defensive clinic last Saturday night to defeat the Bears, who possess some incredible attacking weapons including Cody Walker and Darren Nicholls.
Graham was delighted at the defensive effort his team showed on the weekend, and is hoping to carry that form deep into the finals series.
“[Defence] is a major part of our game that we’ve been working on, and we’re just trying to get better every week. Especially our side on the right, we’ve just been practising every week at training and it’s been good,” said Graham.
“We want to get our completion rate high. We had a good completion rate [last week] and just want to keep this momentum up.”
Graham is one of the major reasons the Bulldogs have such an expansive style of play, and if they combine their prolific attack as well as the defence from last week, they can certainly travel deep into the 2015 VB NSW Cup Finals Series.