Melbourne Storm 4
Goals: Chambers 0/1
Canterbury Bulldogs 28
Tries: Eastwood, Hodkinson, Lafai 3
Goals: Hodkinson 4/5
Canterbury Bulldogs stunned Melbourne Storm with a comfortable 28-4 victory to knock Storm out of the NRL Finals at the first hurdle and set up a clash with Manly next weekend.
Tim Lafai helped himself to a hat-trick as his sides first half blow out effectively saw them win the game as they took a 24-0 lead into the break.
Melbourne were poor as a whole however, they were on top in spells but were plagued by errors and struggled to break down a brilliant defensive effort from the Bulldogs.
The game came to a halt late in the second half as Pat O’Hanlon looked to have picked up a serious leg injury in a brutal collision.
The Bulldogs started the better of the two teams and were first on the score sheet when Ennis’ towering bomb was batted back into the path of Greg Eastwood for the big forward to score.
They went twelve nil up soon after when Cameron Smith’s uncharacteristic bad pass from a scrum on his own 20 resulted in a knock-on and from the resulting set Hodkinson dummied his way over for a six point try.
Just two minutes later Tim Lafai intercepted a poor Ben Roberts pass before racing 60 metres to score and put the visitors in dream land at 18-0 up.
Melbourne had a spell in the middle of the half when they threatened the Bulldogs but they couldn’t cut out the errors which were costing them badly.
Late in the half the Bulldogs were over again as Lafai was on the end of a good sweeping move and found a gap to race through for his second try of the game. Hodkinson’s conversion sent his side into the sheds with a 24-0 lead.
Melbourne had the momentum and were denied an incredible try by the video ref as they kept the ball alive for what seemed an eternity, with six to go being called twice before Korobeite came back inside and offloaded for Waqa who thought he had scored. After further inspection though the video ref spotted a knock-on from Bromwich in the build-up and denied Storm.
Storm continued in their purple patch but just couldn’t break through the resilient Bulldogs defence which was summed up when Mahe Fonua looked certain to score but for an incredible try saver from James Graham.
The Bulldogs wrapped it up when with five minutes remaining Greg Eastwood intercepted in his own half and found Tim Lafai in support who raced away to complete his hat-trick.
Hodkinson couldn’t convert and the Bulldogs saw out a 28-4 victory over the Storm to end their season and set up a clash with Manly in the next stage of the NRL Finals.
Man of the Match
James Graham – the front rower worked his socks off as he always does and was at the heart of the Bulldogs defensive effort. He was a menace in attack and solid in defence with a brilliant try saver the highlight of his game. If he continues to perform, the Bulldogs can go far in these finals.
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