Josh Morris celebrated his 200th match for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in style, scoring a long-range try in helping his team get off the mark in the 2018 season.
His decorated career at Belmore began in 2010 after 46 games with the St George Illawarra Dragons, and since then he has been dominant for his club, state, and country.
Morris now has 96 tries for the club in his 200 games – a fine record for a brilliant centre – his latest a 90-metre effort, as he intercepted a Nathan Cleary pass and bolted away for an important four-pointer against the run of play.
To bring up a try in a milestone game is an outstanding achievement, but to add another special moment with his twin brother in their amazing Rugby League journey together makes it all the better.
“I was looking up at the big screen, I’ve never actually looked up at the screen before, so it was a good gauge to see where [the Panthers chasers] were at,” Morris said to bulldogs.com.au after the game.
“About 15 metres out I knew I was going to make it; it was lucky it even stuck in my hands, it hit me on the chest and just seemed to stay there.
“[Brett and I] had that dream as kids playing in the NRL and just to get one game was going to be an achievement, but to play as many games as we have and to celebrate these milestones together, it’s something that I’ll look back on when I finish with fond memories.
“It was just meant to be today.”
To make the night even sweeter, Morris’ three-month-old daughter – Cali Marie Morris – was also in the stands watching her dad play.
“I had my daughter there and gave her a cuddle at the end of the game and she started crying,” Morris said.
“She’s definitely coming to every other game from now on, I’ll make sure that the wife brings her along.”
While the records show the Bulldogs were 0-2 heading into the clash with Penrith, Dean Pay’s men were impressive against Melbourne before a disappointing night out against the Roosters.
After a brilliant first half led by Moses Mbye, the Bulldogs simply couldn’t afford to walk off the ground with another loss despite showing positive signs. They managed to hang on against a fast-finishing Panthers outfit – who had returned from two 14-point deficits in two weeks – for an important victory.
“I don’t think we’ve put together a game of football yet before this week,” Morris said.
“We were good in patches against Melbourne and then in the second game against the Roosters we really didn’t play well at all, so that was the main focus.
“[It was a] very good first half, I thought we played some good football and came up with some good tries, we knew they’d come back like that and we really backed our defence in the second half to hold strong."
While Morris is happy with the Round 3 result, he knows there have already been valuable lessons learned about playing for the full 80 minutes that they will have to build on moving forward.
He is, however, thrilled that they were able to be the first team in 2018 to deny the Panthers – who are filled with attacking weapons across the park – a second-half comeback victory.
“Our line-speed and our contact wasn’t good enough against the Roosters and we wanted to work on that,” Morris said.
"We knew that they were going to throw the ball around towards the end there we just had to keep moving; no one gave up and I guess that’s how you win games in the end like that."
The Bulldogs play the South Sydney Rabbitohs in Round 4, who themselves go in search of their first win of 2018 against the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles at ANZ Stadium as Round 3 continues.