The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have left it late to put away a tough Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles outfit at Lottoland, defeating the hosts 16-8 for their first victory of the season.
Halves Matt Frawley and Josh Cleeland were good for the visitors, alongside forwards Rod Griffin and Renouf To'Omaga. Despite a minimal share of possession, the Sea Eagles hung in and the tough efforts of Brendan Attwood and Pita Godinet were standouts.
The Bulldogs wasted no time getting on the board at Lottoland, with Rhyse Martin playing off Josh Cleeland to find the tryline in just the fourth minute. The second-rower converted his own try to make it 6-0 early on.
It was a controlled start to the game from the Bulldogs, who forced a line dropout following on from the Martin try. Renoud To'Omaga looked likely to score the side's second when Matt Frawley flicked the ball outside, but the ball was put down to give the Sea Eagles some much-needed possession.
With the ball in hand the Sea Eagles fought their way back into the contest and soon found themselves on the Bulldogs' line. After one dive from dummy-half brought no rewards, Viliami Kaveinga tried a second time and caught the Canterbury-Bankstown defence napping, scoring their first try. It went unconverted and they trailed 6-4.
Some enterprising play from Pita Godinet and Kaveinga almost put Peter Schuster in to score, but was cleaned up by Josh Bergamin. When the Bulldogs got another chance Martin looked like scoring a second, but knocked on over the line. With the rain beginning to sprinkle down, it was a close contest heading into half-time.
The Bulldogs continued to dominate posession in the second half, surging out to 59 per cent 15 minutes after half-time, but failed to execute in attacking positions. When the Sea Eagles got their chance it looked like captain Brendan Attwood would score, but a silly penalty from Zac Woolford gifted the home side a penalty goal from right in front. Lussick successfully evened up scores to six points apiece.
With 10 minutes remaining in the game, Blacktown looked certain to score when Kelepi Manu made a break down the sideline, putting the ball to boot in the hope of setting up his inside man, but earned a penalty in the process. Lussick struck the penalty goal well, giving the hosts an 8-6 advantage.
The Sea Eagles' lead would be short-lived, however, with Renouf To'Omaga pouncing on a Matt Frawley grubber to get the Bulldogs back in front. Just four minutes later it would be Rod Griffin to score again, with the Papua New Guinea international running off hooker Craig Garvey to seal the team's first win of 2017. The Bulldogs emerged victorious 16-8.