The Canterbury Bulldogs are 80 minutes away from the VB NSW Cup Grand Final after defeating the New Zealand Warriors in a 33-20 arm-wrestle.
The lead changed three times in the first half before the 16-all score line at the break, which highlighted how close the contest was before the Bulldogs ran away with the game after two incredible long-range tries.
Jaline Graham earned the man-of-the-match honors with two outstanding solo tries along with a late field goal, while Jarrod McInally contributed on the wing with the opening two tries for the Bulldogs.
Some excellent solo work by Sione Lousi led to the Warriors’ first try, after he drifted past defenders and threw a pinpoint pass for Matthew Allwood, who found space, fended off a defender and scored in the right corner.
Raymond Faitala-Mariner dropped the ball into the hands of McInally while on the attack, which proved to be a crucial error as the Bulldogs’ winger ran the length of the field to lock up the scores at 6-all.
McInally scored his second try just short of the 20 minute mark after a perfect Matt Frawley pass found Chase Stanley on the outside of his defender, which fractured the Warriors’ defence and created an overlap – resulting in an easy finish for the try scorer.
Mason Lino injected himself into the contest in the 23rd minute after he picked the ball up from dummy half, sold a massive dummy to the right and powered his way over the Bulldogs’ defence to take back the lead to 12-10.
From one halfback to another, Graham scored the first of his tries after he made a linebreak from inside his own half, put a kick in for Tyrone Phillips but showed tremendous speed to win the race, re-gather and give the Bulldogs a 16-12 lead.
The scores locked up to 16-all on the stroke of halftime after Lino chipped for Ken Maumalo to catch and score, which was the first try-scoring opportunity for the Warriors in over 15 minutes.
The Bulldogs applied pressure onto the Warriors immediately as the second half began with three forced dropouts in a row, before Levi Dodd powered his way through two defenders to give them a four-point buffer.
An excellent play from Lino locked up the scores once again after he showed wonderful skill to break the line and pass to a supporting Faitala-Mariner, who brushed off Corey Thompson to find his way over the line.
It was déjà vu for Graham who repeated his first half heroics, as he put on a magnificent side-step to beat the Warriors’ defenders from inside his own half and raced away for his second incredible solo try of the night, which increased the Bulldogs’ lead to 26-20.
Lloyd Perrett drifted across field off the kickoff set to put Adam Elliot in a hole, who passed inside to Thompson to score their fourth long-range try of the match which blew their lead out to 32-20.
Warriors’ fullback Viliami Kaveinga was unable to field the Bulldogs' kick, resulting in a dropout that led to Graham to snap a field goal to take an unassailable lead out to 13.
The Bulldogs now prepare for a hugely anticipated showdown against the red-hot Wyong Roos next Sunday, 20 September at Leichhardt Oval.
Canterbury Bulldogs 33 (J McInally 2, J Graham 2, C Thompson, L Dodd tries; C Stanley 2, Dodd 2 goals; Graham field goal) bt Warriors 20 (M Allwood, K Maumalo, R Faitala-Mariner, M Lino tries; Lino 2 goals)