The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have further stamped their claims as genuine premiership contenders in 2017, with a commanding 32-14 victory over the North Sydney Bears on Sunday afternoon.
Despite the opening half of the contest being a hard-fought battle with the Bulldogs holding onto a slight 12-8 advantage at the break, two tries to captain Craig Garvey was the cornerstone of a clinical second-half performance, that sees the Bulldogs edge closer to the top four of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW ladder.
Renouf To’omaga and Andy Saunders put in strong performances as they laid a strong platform of their numerous attacking raids, while George Burgess and Cheyne Whitelaw putting in valiant performances in a losing side.
The Bulldogs threatened early with a last-tackle raid down the right-hand side, but an opposing penalty to the Bears saw them earn a repeat set down the other tend thanks to a pin-point kick from halfback Luke Kelly.
Unable to capitalise, The Bulldogs responded with a chance of their own with a well-constructed backline movement almost paying off, only for scrambling Bears defence forcing a knock-on.
With both teams looking for the early break-through, it was the Bears who drew first blood as five-eighth Adam Douehi showed his crafty footwork to break the line before evading the fullback to cross for his team’s first try.
Despite the Bears winning the battle of field-position throughout the opening 25 minutes, it was the Bulldogs who found themselves next to score as Renouf To’omaga bursted through the line and offloaded to Josh Cleeland for their maiden try of the afternoon.
A knock-on off the kick-off from the Bulldogs invited the Bears to earn themselves an immediate response, but a penalty in-front of the uprights gifted the Bears an easy two points.
The arm-wrestle contest continued to be played predominantly through the middle third but the Bulldogs found themselves in the red-zone once again, with Bronson Garlick throwing a perfectly timed cut-out pass to Reimis Smith who athletically crossed in the left-hand corner.
Rhyse Martin converted from the sideline to take a 12-8 lead with five minutes remaining the first-half
With both teams unable to close out the first 40 minutes with further points, it was the Bulldogs who held onto the four-point lead at half-time.
The Bears came out with a point to prove with their first attacking chance pinning the Bulldogs on their own try line, and their committed defence responded immediately as they drove Tyron Phillips into in the in-goal.
The Bears were unable to take advantage of the early chance, and a string of penalties soon after saw the Bulldogs straight onto the attack, with Joshua Bergamin wasting little time and scoring their third of the afternoon.
Brimming with confidence, the Bulldogs momentum couldn't be halted as a brilliant Cleeland offload found Rhyse Martin in open space straight from the kick-off, and eventually placed a well-timed grubber for Craig Garvey who scored right under posts for back-to-back tries.
Martin converted the try to extend the lead to 14 points just after 55 minutes.
The Bulldogs were constantly threatening the Bears goal-line with some classy backline movements, and it was Garvey who found the breakthrough as the bursted through some flimsy defence to score his second try of the afternoon.
A 70 metre try to Richie Kennar put the icing on the cake for the Bulldogs with the score stretching out to a 32-8 lead, but the Bears showed their resilience with a late consolation try to Abbas Miski, but it was to no avail as the Bulldogs recorded a strong 32-14 victory away from home.