A stellar performance from the Canterbury Bulldogs saw them convincingly defeat the Brisbane Broncos 36-22 at ANZ Stadium on Thursday night.
In a change made an hour before kick-off, Bulldogs coach Dean Pay elected to omit youngster Jeremy-Marshall King (illness) in favour of Matt Frawley.
Right from the kick-off, it appeared that the Bulldogs had much more intent in both attack and defence than the boys from Brisbane. Their defensive pressure was exemplified in just the second minute, when the Bulldogs’ left edge drove Broncos enforcer Tevita Pangai Junior into touch. Back-to-back penalties to the Bulldogs in the fifth and seventh minutes gifted the home side valuable field position and gave goalkicker Rhyse Martin the opportunity to put his team out to a 2-0 lead. Bulldogs captain Josh Jackson extended this lead seven minutes later, courtesy of a great offload from hooker Michael Lichaa. A handling error from Pangai Junior gifted the Bulldogs with valuable field position that provided the foundation for their second try of the match – in which a great run and kick in-field from centre Kerrod Holland saw Will Hopoate score under the posts. The response from the Broncos came from interchange player Korbin Sims, who crossed twice in the 31st and 36th minutes to reduce the Bulldogs’ lead to just four points going into half-time (16-12).
The half-time break appeared to be a blessing in disguise for the Bulldogs, who went on to score three tries in succession. In a sweeping shift to the left, fullback Will Hopoate provided a long ball to centre Josh Morris, who subsequently put his brother Brett over the try line with a brilliant no look pass. Their next four pointer came just one minute later, when a clever run from dummy half saw halfback Matt Frawley run over the top of Broncos David Fifita and Josh McGuire to extend the Bulldogs’ lead to 16 points. A pinpoint cross field kick from five-eighth Lachlan Lewis provided Josh Morris with the opportunity to score the Bulldogs’ third try in eight minutes, before another Rhyse Martin penalty goal elevated the score to 36-12. Two late tries to the Broncos in the 73rd and 79th minutes, to Anthony Milford and Jamayne Isaako respectively, were merely consolation tries in the context of this match. The Bulldogs made it two in a row and continued their reign of upsets in this Round 21 clash, trumping the seventh-placed Brisbane Broncos 36-22.
In a victory that not many expected, the Bulldogs carried their momentum into this match and produced another impressive attacking and defensive performance. Their dominance is exemplified by the fact that they had an 82% completion rate and made a whopping 298 tackles. The 13th placed Bulldogs certainly gave their fans something to cheer about as they look towards the 2019 season.
Poor Discipline Costs Broncos
When considering the superb form that the Broncos have shown in the last two weeks, it was clear that this loss was very uncharacteristic. The 10 incomplete sets, 18 missed tackles and 11 handling errors made it very difficult for Wayne Bennett’s men to gain any field position or mount pressure on their opponents.
Lewis Aims Up
It was a performance that five-eighth Lachlan Lewis should be very proud of. Despite the fact that he has only played seven NRL games, the 21-year-old controlled his side with the utmost composure. For the entire 80 minutes, his exceptional kicking game troubled the Broncos’ experienced backline. Growing in confidence with every touch, Lewis finished the game with 61 running metres, 19 tackles and an involvement in one of the Bulldogs’ most exciting tries.
Broncos’ Top Four Hope Diminished
This defeat has significantly halted the Broncos’ charge towards the top four. Whilst the boys from Brisbane are currently in a three-way tie with the Penrith Panthers and the Cronulla Sharks on 26 competition points, this defeat will make it extremely difficult for them to elevate themselves to fourth place. When considering that their points differential is currently -4, the Broncos will have to win at least three of their remaining four games by significant margins if they are to get a double chance come September.
Canterbury Bulldogs 36
Tries: Josh Jackson, Will Hopoate, Brett Morris, Matt Frawley, Josh Morris
Goals: Rhyse Martin 8
Brisbane Broncos 22
Tries: Korbin Sims 2, Anthony Milford, Jamayne Isaako
Goals: Jamayne Isaako
Canterbury Bulldogs: 1 Will Hopoate, 2 Brett Morris, 3 Josh Morris, 4 Kerrod Holland, 5 Reimis Smith, 6 Lachlan Lewis, 20 Matt Frawley, 8 Aidan Tolman, 9 Michael Lichaa, 10 Danny Fualalo, 11 Josh Jackson (c), 12 Rhyse Martin, 13 Adam Elliott. Interchange: 14 Fa’amanu Brown, 15 Greg Eastwood, 16 Ofahiki Ogden, 17 Chris Smith.
Brisbane Broncos: 1 Jamayne Isaako, 2 Corey Oates, 3 James Roberts, 4 Darius Boyd (c), 5 Jordan Kahu, 6 Anthony Milford, 7 Kodi Nikorima, 8 Matthew Lodge, 9 Andrew McCullough, 10 Sam Thaiday, 11 Alex Glenn, 12 Tevita Pangai Junior, 13 Josh McGuire. Interchange: 14 Kotoni Staggs, 15 Joe Ofahengaue, 16 Korbin Sims, 17 David Fifita.
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