The Canterbury Bulldogs have stolen a thrilling 27-26 upset win over the New Zealand Warriors at ANZ Stadium in Sydney. The win moves the Bulldogs to 16 competition points and into 13th position on the ladder.
The Warriors started the game well and opened the scoring with a try to Gerard Beale after Shaun Johnson threw an inside pass for him to run through a gaping hole in the Bulldogs defense. The Warriors looked to be in control after this, but an error from winger Ken Maumalo off a line drop-out gave the Bulldogs an opportunity to get into the game. The Bulldogs seemed to get a surge of energy from this and were able to score two quick tries to put themselves in front. They weren’t able to hang on to he lead for long as the Warriors were able to take advantage of some good field position to get the equalizing try. A late penalty goal and a brilliant long-range try on the stroke of halftime saw the Bulldogs lead 20-12 at the break.
The Warriors started the second half like they started the first, getting across in the corner to cut the lead back to four points. This didn’t last very long when Brett Morris was able to palm a kick back to his brother Josh, who went over to score. The Warriors were quick to answer back again when Johnson set up David Fusitu’a for his second try to cut the lead back to just six. The Bulldogs held this lead for the next 15 minutes, before the Warriors were finally able to level the scores after Adam Blair broke the line and offloaded for Peta Hiku to score. Just when it looked like the game was headed for golden point, young gun Lachlan Lewis stepped up, kicking the game-winning field goal to secure a hard-fought 27-26 win for the Bulldogs.
LEWIS RETURNS IN A MATCH WINNING PERFORMANCE
The Bulldogs look like a different team when Lachlan Lewis is in the side. You only have to look at the last few games when he has been in the team, versus when he has been out of it to see the difference he has made. Lewis missed the game against Manly last week due to family reasons, and the Bulldogs were only able to score one try and generally looked like they lacked direction in attack throughout the entire game. Fast forward to this week, and they have scored 27 points against a top eight team in the Warriors, and threatened to score points every time they had the ball when attacking close to the Warriors line. Not only did he give the Bulldogs some direction, but he contributed to the scoreboard as well. Most importantly, he showed maturity beyond his years by kicking the match-winning field goal to ice the game.
LOSS KEEPS WARRIORS IN 8TH, TIGERS HOPES ALIVE
The Warriors will be left thinking about what could have been after this game. Coming into this one they had a shot at moving to 6th position on the ladder and equal on 30 competition points with the Sharks, Panthers and Dragons on the edge of the top four. They started both halves of footy as arguably the better team by scoring the opening points, but didn’t have the cohesion in defense they have had in previous weeks. If they are hoping to make the top eight and go further than the first week of the finals, they will need to ensure they find some solidarity in defense once again. They also have to be wary of falling out of the top eight altogether if they cannot find a win in the last two games. If the Tigers can win their remaining two games, they may be able to knock the Warriors out of 8th on for and against.
YOUTHFUL BULLDOGS GIVE FANS HOPE FOR NEXT YEAR
Whilst this season hasn’t been the greatest for the Bulldogs, they have plenty of reasons to be smiling when they think about some of the skill and young talent the have coming through the ranks. As we saw today, Lachlan Lewis looks to be the missing link the Bulldogs have been searching for in the halves for years. His cool and calm demeanor at the young age of 22 has been a breath of fresh air for the Bulldogs, and it’s clear that when he is on the field the rest of the team gains a lot of confidence from the plays he is able to produce. Another player who looks to be every bit the superstar in the making is young winger Reimis Smith. He scored his second try in as many weeks today, and made easy work of the Warriors defense on a few occasions by using his speed and brute strength. The Bulldogs will be losing the Morris brothers next season to other clubs, so it will be important for them to retain Smith.
BULLDOGS PUT DISTANCE BETWEEN THEMSELVES AND THE SPOON
Whilst this result has had an effect on the make up of the top eight, it has also had big implications on which team will win the dreaded wooden spoon this year. The Bulldogs have given themselves the best chance to avoid this by beating the Warriors, and now sit on 16 points, in 13th position and two points ahead of the Eels and Cowboys. They have their work cut out for them in their last two games however, as they take on the Dragons next week on the road, and finish the season with a tough game against the Sharks. In comparison, the Cowboys and Eels play each other next week to possibly decide the wooden spoon, and play the Titans and Roosters respectively in the final round of the season.
Tries: Elliott, Smith, Lewis, J.Morris
Goals: Martin 5/5
Drop Goals: Lewis
Tries: Fusitu’a 2, Beale, Tuivasa-Sheck, Hiku
Goals: Johnson 3/5
Drop Goals: N/A
Bulldogs: 1. Will Hopoate 2. Brett Morris 3. Josh Morris 4. Kerrod Holland 5. Reimis Smith 6. Lachlan Lewis 20. Matt Frawley 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Lichaa 10. David Klemmer 11. Josh Jackson (c) 12. Rhyse Martin 13. Adam Elliott
Interchange: 7. Jeremey Marshall-King 15. Danny Fualalo 16. Ofahiki Ogden 17. Greg Eastwood
Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c) 2. David Fusitua 3. Gerard Beale 4. Solomone Kata 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Blake Green 7. Shaun Johnson 8. James Gavet 9. Issac Luke 10. Agnatius Paasi 11. Isaiah Papalii 12. Adam Blair 13. Simon Mannering
Interchange: 14. Jazz Tevaga 15. Leivaha Pulu 16. Bunty Afoa 17. Peta Hiku