Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 16 (Brown, Graham, Eastwood tries; Hodkinson 2 conversions 1 penalty)
New Zealand Warriors 12 (Matulino, Henry tries; Johnson 2 conversions)
The Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs have won their seventh straight NRL game by defeating the New Zealand Warriors 16-12 in Hamilton in front of 17, 673 fans, thanks largely to a Josh Morris cover tackle in the dying stages of the match.
With Warriors half back and noted speedster Shaun Johnson looking set to score in the corner as he streaked down the sideline, Morris came from infield to bundle the New Zealand number seven into touch just metres out from the sideline.
It stopped what would have been a tremendous comeback from the Warriors who found themselves 16-6 down against the competition leaders as the game headed into the final ten minutes.
They had a further chance to steal the game late, but the attempted pass flick on from captain Simon Mannering saw the ball float forward with the Bulldogs holding their nerve to claim the points.
Earlier The Warriors had opened the scoring, when a short ball from Nathan Friend in the 13th minute of the game found a charging Ben Matulino. The big Second Rower doing well to reach out and find the chalk despite the attention of five Bulldogs defenders.
The Bulldogs dominated possession on the back of several mistakes from the Warriors, however the New Zealand side defended strongly for a long period of the game before Tony Williams found himself in a gaping hole. The giant Bulldog putting his side in attacking range from the burst.
From the ensuing field position man mountain Sam Kasiano turned play maker, with a sublime cut out pass to winger Mitch Brown allowing the dogs to open their account after half an hour. Trent Hodkinson unable to convert top leave a two point margin in favour of the Warriors at half time.
It didn’t take long after the interval for the Bulldogs to take the ascendency in the fixture when another hole in the Warriors defence was exploited by a big man, this time by James Graham who steamed on to Hodkinson pass from close range to cross the stripe untouched in the 44th minute.
And in the 52d minute of the game they extended their lead again when a Josh Reynolds kick lacked depth but was still caught by winger Chase Stanley who was monstered by Manu Vatuvei as he caught the ball, but managed to pop a pass to Tim Lafai who in turn found Sam Perrett with opposite number Sam Tomkins wrapping him up but not the ball. The offload allowing Greg Eastwood to crash over.
Uncharacteristically, Hodkinson missed the conversion, to have the scoreboard reading 14-12.
Hodkinson extended the lead in the 68th minute of the game when the Bulldogs took the unusual option of extending the lead from eight to ten via a penalty kick.
The decision almost came back to bite them, when Sam Tomkins got the ball on the wrap around before passing to Ben Henry. The Warriors utility centre outpacing the Bulldogs sliding defense to plant the ball down in the corner and with Johnson converting from the sideline the Warriors were just four points behind with four minutes remaining. However the Morris tackle ensured that was as close as they would come.