Melbourne Storm Try Scorer: Proctor
Goals: Smith 0/2
Canterbury Bulldogs Try Scorer: Kasiano
Goals: Hodkinson 1/1
Canterbury Bulldogs came from 4-0 behind at half time to beat Melbourne Storm 4-6 in a gutsy display as they start to push for a minor premiership and a shot at the NRL titile.
Both sides defended heroically in a game which saw just two tries due to the determined efforts in defence from the teams.
The defeat damages the Storm’s aspirations of becoming Champions as they face a tough last eight games, including five games on the road with the Melbourne side now sitting eighth in the ladder.
James Graham was outstanding in the victory as he notched up 17 runs and 158 metres, more than anyone on the field, as well as 42 tackles which was bettered only by Cameron Smith who made a huge 50. Graham wasn’t only great going forward he also gave the Bulldogs another option in the halves and was heavily involved in a ball handling role despite playing in the front row.
Mahe Fonua went close early on when he found a way over the try line in the corner however, Mitch Brown managed to hold him up and stop the winger from opening the scoring.
It wasn’t long after that though when the Storm did take the lead through Kevin Proctor as he hit a perfectly timed and weighted flat ball from the returning Cooper Cronk to crash over and score. Cameron Smith failed to convert the kick which would prove crucial later on in the game.
Billy Slater had the chance to extend the Melbourne lead when he raced towards a grubber kick into the in goal area but Greg Eastwood came up with a great play as he beat the fullback to the ball and knocked it out of play.
A great defensive effort from both sides meant that neither side could add to the scoreboard for the rest of the half as the Storm took a 4-0 lead into the sheds.
Sam Kasiano reached over to score from close range after just five minutes of the second period but he had James Graham to thank as he came up with an impossible offload to Ennis who found Kasiano when the Storm defence was still retreating. Hodkinson knocked over the conversion from close range to put the Bulldogs 4-6 ahead.
Billy Slater came up with a brilliant try saving tackle to deny Mitch Brown when he broke from a James Graham inside ball as the Bulldogs started to control the game and build pressure on the Storm line.
The two fullbacks were locked in a battle and when Slater broke through from a perfect inside ball it was Brown who came out on top, as he produced an outstanding tackle to deny Slater a certain try as he attempted to round his opposite number.
The Bulldogs were out on their feet as the last twenty minutes of the game were dominated by the home side and the number of tackles they were making late on was showing as the mistakes started to creep in.
There was late drama when Tim Lafai stupidly blocked winger Koroibete and took him out as he tried to contest a kick which handed a penalty to the Storm with just two minutes remaining. Smith took the opportunity to kick at goal however, he dragged the attempt wide and the Bulldogs retained possession and saw out the game to win 4-6 and stay at the top.
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