Cleeland Clinches Canterbury Win
The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have claimed a remarkable come-from-behind victory, with two tries in the final 10 minutes seeing them take a 30-28 win over the Wentworthville Magpies at Ringrose Park on Sunday afternoon.
The Magpies fought hard in the opening 40 minutes to trail 18-12 at half-time and despite leading by 10 points in the closing stages of the contest, the Bulldogs hit back with back-to-back tries to Rhyse Martin and Josh Cleeland to record a second-straight win and cement their position in the top four of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW.
The early exchanges were an even battle with both teams guilty of ill-discipline after an array of penalties, but it was the Bulldogs who drew first blood with Tyrone Phillips finishing off a classy scrum-base play in the left-hand corner.
Rhyse Martin converted to take a 6-0 lead after 10 minutes.
An error from the Bulldogs gifted the Magpies a perfect opportunity for an immediate reply, with Honeti Tuha bursting onto an inside ball and looking certain to score only for his counterpart Josh Bergamin to strip the ball and force a goal-line dropout.
Pressure was building as the Magpies earned three consecutive sets on the opposition goal line and soon broke the committed defence of the Bulldogs, as Kurt De Luis barged his way over to the left of the uprights.
Their wave of momentum continued as the Magpies dominated the battle for field position with their forwards rolling through the middle third, and five-eighth Cody Nelson took full advantage as he planted a pin-point kick inside for Tuha to score their second try of the game.
Nathan Davis converted from in front to set the score at 12-6 with 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
Just when the Magpies were threatening for their third unanswered try, a loose ball was pounced on by Bulldogs centre Richie Kennar before offloading to winger Tom Carr who showed tremendous speed to evade George Jennings and score a 60-metre try under the posts.
Brimming with confidence, the Bulldogs responded with some strong carries of their own as they were looking to claim the lead just before the break, and Martin showed his sheer strength as he muscled his way over in the right-hand corner.
Martin converted his own fry from the sideline with the Bulldogs holding onto a six-point advantage at half-time.
Tuha got his team off to the ideal start when he crossed for his second try in the 42nd minute and they soon found the lead, with Atini Gafa intercepting a Lachlan Lewis pass and streaking 70 metres before a quick shift to George Jennings saw the flyer score in the opposite corner.
Both teams were unlucky to not come away with further points as their respective defensive efforts continued to hold strong, but poor handling errors also ruined their chances of taking advantage of their opportunities.
The Bulldogs were threatening for a much-needed four-pointer with Kurt De Luis sin-binned for a professional foul, but they were unable to capitalise on the one-man advantage as George Jennings brushed off a host of defenders before finding Nathan Davis to streak away for a vital four-pointer.
Davis converted from in-front to extend the lead to 10 points with 13 minutes remaining in the contest.
The Bulldogs were fighting valiantly despite trailing on the scoreboard, and a break by Richie Kennar soon resulted in points as Martin crossed for his second try just a few tackles later.
Bulldogs speedster Tom Carr capped off a tremendous game with another break down the right-hand touchline off the ensuing set, drawing the fullback with a well-timed pass to a supporting Josh Cleeland who sprinted away for the match-winning try.
Despite some last-ditch attacking raids from the Magpies, their efforts were to no avail as the Bulldogs held on for a hard-fought 30-28 victory.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 30 (R Martin 2, T Phillips, T Carr, J Cleeland tries; R Martin 5 goals) def Wentworthville Magpies 28 (H Tuha 2, K De Luis, G Jennings, N Davis tries; N Davis 4 goals)