A Joey Lussick field goal in golden point has advanced the Wyong Roos into Week 2 of the finals, as they ended the game 19-18 victors.
The game had everything from extra time, to two sin bins in the final quarter of the match, but it was captain Mitch Williams that stepped up for the Roos when they needed it most.
It is a heartbreaking way for the Bulldogs to bow out, they have overcome so much adversity this year after recording their first win in Round 10, and they did extremely well to make it this far into the campaign.
The Roos earned a penalty on halfway, and one of the smartest footballers in the competition, Mitch Williams, took the quick tap and marched 30 metres up-field. Off the ensuing play, Pakisonasi Afu carried four Bulldogs defenders on his back across the line, and managed to plant the ball down for the opening try.
Errors allowed the Bulldogs onto the attack, and after a Matt Frawley repeat set, Craig Garvey gave Makahesi Makatoa, who alike Wyong just minutes earlier, powered his way through the defence to score.
Tyler Cornish began to build pressure by forcing two dropouts, but the Bulldogs responded with a massive 75-metre dropout. The Roos those metres up with ease, and Williams’ vision came into play by darting out of dummy half and taking the lead right back.
The six-point deficit was cut to two shortly after off the back off a Bulldogs penalty, after Jarrod McInally passed to Marcelo Montoya, who ducked under the defence and slid onto the chalk.
Garvey has emerged as a classy hooker in the past 12-months, and that was on show with a beautiful grubber into the in-goal area, that should have been cleaned up by Wyong for a goal-line drop-out.
The bounce of the ball was cruel for Luke Garner, however, as he had an air-swing at the ball and Renouf Toomaga was charging through to get a hand on it. The try was awarded, much to the displeasure of Garner and Chris Centrone.
That gave the Bulldogs a 16-12 lead, which they took into half-time
Eight minutes into the second half, Omar Slaimankhel injected himself into the game when he drifted in-field, gave a ball to Cornish, who threw a pass into a Bulldogs defender, but the ball was deflected back into the hands of Slaimankhel who successfully re-gathered and scored.
The scores were locked at 16-all, and only some desperate defence stopped a second Williams try when Papalli ran over various players to break through the line, then threw a magical flick-pass for the Wyong captain who was only stopped by Lloyd Perrett.
Papalli tried to go over from dummy half, but was stopped by some offside markers, and Cornish slotted the penalty goal to stick their noses in front by two.
Bronson Garlick gave away his first penalty of the day, but unfortunately for him it was the Bulldogs eighth compared to Wyong’s two, and he was subsequently sent to the sin bin.
The defence knew they would have to step up in Garlick’s absence, and Toomaga led the charge with a bone-rattling tackle close to their line that knocked the ball free.
The Bulldogs survived another Wyong raid, and they managed to march up-field and Frawley came inches short of scoring, but a penalty was blown.
One would think the Bulldogs would take the gift two-points on offer, but they took the tap and forced a dropout of the next set.
As Garlick was about to run back onto the field, Dom Reardon gave the referee a massive spray after a Wyong mistake, and was sent to the sin-bin with eight minutes remaining, meaning the Roos would be a player short until full-time.
With three minutes to go, the Bulldogs shifted the ball left and McInally found space down the left sideline. He raced away in the to the corner and looked certain to score the try and steal the game, but Slaimankhel channelled his inner Scott Sattler to make a brilliant legs tackle to force a turnover.
With 60 seconds to go, the Bulldogs back on the attack, Wyong gave away a penalty in front of the posts.
The Bulldogs are entertaining, but they weren’t prepared to run the clock, and the obvious call to take the two-points was taken to lock the scores up at 18-all, sending the game to golden point.
Reardon had to sit out the opening 124 seconds of the golden point period, but Wyong received first use of the ball.
Wyong made 60 metres off their first set, and Cornish put in a brilliant kick down-field into the in-goal area. Frawley put in an equally good kick off their opening set, as both teams started the period conservatively.
With the wind behind them, Joey Lussick was given the ball 35 metres out, struck the drop goal beautifully and it sailed between the posts, giving the Roos a 19-18 win, and will play the Wests Tigers next week.