League-Leaders Held To A Point
The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and Wyong Roos have fought out a 30-all draw at Belmore Sports Ground- a 77th minute penalty goal to the Roos equalising the see-sawing affair and ensuring both sides walked away with a point.
Despite being 10 points behind the Roos on the competition ladder coming into the clash, it would be all Canterbury in the early stages. Incredibly, the Roos would not set foot inside the Bulldogs 30 metre line until the 28th minute.
Some enterprising play right from the kick-off saw the Bulldogs find themselves immediately in attacking position, only to narrowly miss out on a try to winger, Joshua Bergamin on their very first set — the late call-up putting his foot into touch as he attempted to plant down the ball.
The Bulldogs remained composed though, continuing to mount pressure on their much-fancied rivals with some patient, clinical attack. That patience would eventually be rewarded in the 12th minute when back-rower, Rhys Martin, capped off a brilliant passage of hot-potato football by crashing over next to the posts to open the scoring. Martin added the extras to make it 6-0.
Canterbury’s early dominance would continue when lock, Rod Griffin, took a short-ball from Zachary Woolford inside the 10 metre line before dashing through a gaping hole to score. Martin made no mistake with the extras to make it 12-0 after 22 minutes. Though Wyong were about to turn the game on its head.
After having to defend for the majority of the first half, the Roos would finally hit back in the 31st minute when Mitch Cornish stepped inside a Bulldogs defender two metres out from the try-line before scoring — Jayden Nikorima converting to make it 12-6.
The Roos fightback continued when centre, Matthew Ikuvalu took advantage of some tired Bulldogs defenders in the middle to score. Nikorima’s conversion would see the scores levelled at 12-apiece.
Despite having just five minutes left in the opening half, the Roos made the most of the time by continuing their fight-back in style when Cornish scored his second via a long-range effort down the left-hand-side — Wyong going to the break with an 16-12 advantage as a result.
Canterbury came out of the sheds with renewed enthusiasm though, forcing a Roos error inside the first 10 minutes of the half that would eventually result in Brad Abbey streaking through under the posts. Martin’s subsequent conversion would see the blue and white’s momentarily re-take the lead at 18-16.
But the Roos would immediately respond through back-rower, Chris Smith, who steamed right through the middle of Canterbury’s line just moments later. Nikorima would again add the extras to make it 22-18 in favour of the visitors.
The teams would continue to go tit-for-tat when Bronson Garlick took a perfectly-timed ball on the chest just as a hole opened in the Wyong defensive line — the interchange player streaking 20 metres to score before Martin added the extras to again re-take the lead at 24-22.
Wyong’s Luke Sharpe would be the next to score when the hooker found a gap out wide just big enough to slice through, continuing the see-sawing nature of the lead when Nikorima converted to make it 28-24 to Wyong.
With nine minutes in the match remaining, Canterbury mounted a short-side attacking play that would split the Wyong defence with a sequence of draw and passes, eventually resulting in Bergamin scoring a crucial equaliser just millimetres inside the touch-line.
The try would set up Martin’s toughest kick of the afternoon. But the back-rower was equal to the task, slotting the ball right between the uprights to take the lead at 30-28 for the home side with eight minutes left on the clock.
But a penalty to the Roos inside the final three minutes of play, just 15 metres out would see Nikorima equalise the match for the final time at 30 apiece with his penalty goal — the two sides walking away with one competition point apiece as a result.