The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have clinched their sixth Intrust Super Premiership NSW win of the season by comprehensively downing Illawarra 38-0 at Belmore Sports Ground this evening.
A personal haul of 10 points to fullback Brad Abbey, plus a try-scoring double to centre, Richie Kennar, would help the men in blue and white to the impressive victory, but it was the side’s defence which would ultimately shine through, managing to keep the fourth-placed defending premiers scoreless.
The Bulldogs drew first blood just seven minutes into the clash thanks to a well-timed cut-out pass from halfback Lachlan Lewis to Kennar, who strolled over next to the posts unmarked. Abbey converted to make it 6-0.
The blue-and-whites continued to apply pressure, with Illawarra forced to repel wave after wave of Bulldogs attack on their own line thanks in part to some clever tactical kicking from the Canterbury-Bankstown halves.
When Illawarra finally did cross into the home side’s 20-metre line, some needlessly dangerous flirting with the sideline would see them squander their first meaningful opportunity with the ball — the Bulldogs bundling the Illawarra attackers into touch with relative ease.
Much to the delight of the Bulldogs faithful in attendance, Canterbury would take full advantage of the error within a few tackles when Brenko Lee sliced through a gaping hole in the Illawarra defensive line before proceeding to turn fullback Mathew Dufty inside out on his way to scoring a brilliant solo try. Abbey added the extras from close range to make it 12-0 with 18 minutes gone.
Poor ball handling would hamper Illawarra’s progress, and with 12 minutes left in the opening stanza, yet another error would set up an opportunity for the Bulldogs resulting in winger Reimis Smith attacking the Illawarra flanks before combining back on the inside with a flying Abbey. The fullback would cross the line before bettering the position for his own eventually successful shot at goal to make it 18-0 with nine minutes remaining in the half.
Illawarra looked to mount an attacking raid inside the last minute of the first half with Reuben Garrick crossing out wide. But the try would ultimately be disallowed leaving the Bulldogs with an 18-point buffer going into the sheds.
The home side picked up right where they left off following the break by applying sustained pressure on the Illawarra line, eventually resulting in Tyrone Phillips crossing just millimetres in from touch in the 46th minute to make it 22-0.
Canterbury continued to tighten the screws in the 55th minute when Reimis Smith completed a frenetic phase of passing inside Illawarra’s own 20-metre line to eventually touch down in the corner to make it 26-0.
Bulldogs five-eighth Josh Cleeland continued his strong performance at pivot when he dummied and sliced through the Illawarra defence before streaking 40 metres to score a brilliant try, extending his side’s lead to 30-0.
The floodgates were well and truly open by the 68th minute, with Kennar grabbing his second try of the afternoon after a brilliant passage of play that would leave Illawarra defenders clutching at thin air. Rhyse Martin converted from out wide to make the score 36-0 with 11 minutes left on the clock.
A penalty to the Bulldogs within kicking distance was then seized upon by Martin, who opted to kick his side a further two points ahead from right in front to round out the clash at 38-0.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 38 (R Kennar 2, B Abbey, B Lee, T Phillips, R Smith, J Cleeland tries; B Abbey 3, R Martin 2 goals) def Illawarra 0