Canterbury won their first game of 2019: 22-8 over Wests at Campbelltown.
The Bulldogs have discovered their bite for the first time in 2019, earning a comprehensive 22-8 victory over the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown.
Coach Dean Pay re-signed with the club for a further year just days after wielding the axe following two very bad losses to start the season.
He demoted several players while handing Nick Meaney his first start at fullback and giant winger Jayden Okunbor a debut. Both excelled in the victory, with Meaney setting up a length of the field try for Reimis Smith in the 27th minute.
Scooping up a loose ball, Meaney showed tremendous speed and footwork to break away before finding Will Hopoate, who linked up with the try scorer. Rhyse Martin, who began the match on the left edge and played 80 minutes, converted.
Okunbor was tested early but had a 100 per cent success rate under the high ball, even impressing against the Tigers middle men with some powerful carriers of the ball.
Young half Lachlan Lewis was slick in the performance, throwing a cut out for the dreadlocked giant. Just a minute later five-eighth Kieran Foran showed glimpses of his best with a strong solo try. Martin converted again for a 12-0 lead.
Continuing to defend well, the Bulldogs reaped the reward from their 95 per cent completion rate and that of new recruit Corey Harawira-Naera, who offloaded for Foran who found a supporting Dylan Napa to score and take the Bulldogs out to an 18-0 lead.
The Tigers battled to breach the Bulldogs’ line despite having the lion’s share of possession, and that continued into the second half when Napa found a rampaging Adam Elliot – the highest metre-making forward for the game – who crashed over. Martin missed against the wind for a 22-0 lead.
Eventually the Tigers bothered the scoreboard when Mahe Fonua showed exceptional skill to leap and slam it down just inside the corner post. Esan Marsters missed the wide conversion.
The Bulldogs appeared to rest on their laurels while doing just enough to wind down the clock and repel Wests, but a slick grubber from Ryan Matterson saw Luke Garner pounce in the 66th minute. Marsters again missed the conversions and the score remained 22-8, where it would stay until full time.
Next up for the Dogs are the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park next Sunday, while the Tigers travel to Panthers Stadium to take on Penrith, with Ivan Cleary to face off against Wests for the first time since walking away from the club.
Pups rejuvenate stale Bulldogs
The injection of Meaney in the number one jersey, Okunbor in the 2 and Lewis steering the ship provided the right amount of youth to perk up the Bulldogs. They were electric, powerful, worked hard and never took a backwards step. Ofahiki Ogden provided a lot of gusto off the bench as did the ever-passionate Elliot, who ran for the most metres and scored a great try.
Farah comes back to Earth
After two of the best performances of his career, Robbie Farah was brought back to earth against the Bulldogs when he was outplayed by Jeremy Marshall-King.
While Farah worked hard, he was unable to replicate his form from the opening two rounds and was outclassed by the younger brother of teammate Benji Marshall.
No doubt he will bounce back and continue his strong form, but Sunday was not his day.
Josh Jackson shines at Lock
Since his debut Josh Jackson has been used as an edge forward. On Sunday, Dean Pay shifted the captain to lock with Martin and Corey Harawira-Naera playing second row. Jackson looked well suited to the middle, putting in the hard yards in both attack and defence, leaving the fancy ball work and offloading to the more suited Martin and Harawira-Naera. It should be a permanent move from here on in.
Still lots to do for inconsistent Bulldogs
One thing’s for sure, the NRL is an extremely even competition. From one week to the next any team can beat any team. The Bulldogs bounced back with an impressive win against the Tigers, but their performances in rounds one and two will still be in the back of Pay’s mind. Their inconsistencies and issues in the middle period of games is not yet rectified despite the victory. Inconsistency is something that the Bulldogs must get out of their game if they’re to put teams away and win more games.
Tries: Reimis Smith, Kieran Foran, Dylan Napa, Adam Elliot
Goals: Rhyse Martin 3/4
Drop Goals: N/A
WESTS TIGERS 8
Tries: Mahe Fonua, Luke Garner
Goals: Esan Marsters 0/2
Drop Goals: N/A
WESTS TIGERS: 1. Moses Mbye, 2. Mahe Fonua, 3. Robert Jennings, 4. Esan Marsters, 5. Corey Thompson, 6. Benji Marshall, 7. Luke Brooks, 8. Ben Matulino, 9. Robbie Farah, 10. Alex Twal, 11. Ryan Matterson, 12. Luke Garner, 13. Elijah Taylor. Interchange: 14. Russell Packer, 15. Thomas Mikale, 16. Josh Aloiai, 17. Michael Chee-Kam.
CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN: 1. Nick Meaney, 2. Jayden Okunbor, 3. Kerrod Holland, 4. Will Hopoate, 5. Reimis Smith, 6. Kieran Foran, 7. Lachlan Lewis, 8. Aidan Tolman, 9. Jeremy Marshall-King, 10. Dylan Napa, 11. Josh Jackson, 12. Corey Harawira-Naera, 16. Rhyse Martin, Interchange: 13. Adam Elliott, 14. Michael Lichaa, 15. Ofahiki Ogden, 17. Chris Smith