Elinya Chenery reviews the Monday long weekend match between the Bulldogs and the Eels…
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
The Queen’s Birthday Monday match-up between the Bulldogs and Eels at Accor Stadium began in the way that many would have expected – the Eels coming out hard and fast and crossing the white line in the opening four minutes of the match. This effort by Waqa Blake was to be overturned by The Bunker due to obstruction: it became the closest the Eels would get to turning over the scoreboard.
No more than two minutes following Parramatta’s no try, the Bulldogs officially opened the scoring for the afternoon with a pin-point kick from five-eighth Matt Burton seeing Josh Addo-Carr cross untouched for a four pointer on the wing.
The feeling present in this match was seen with Tevita Pangai Junior’s hit on Parramatta’s Dylan Brown, who looked worse for wear after reeling out of the contact and still recovering from an ankle injury. Despite the injury concern, Brown remained on the field and – following a 50 metre dash from the Fox – got to repay the favour to Tevita Pangai Junior. With the defence on the back foot and the ball being spread across the field, an almost certain Bulldogs try was only stopped by Brown forcing a knock-on by Pangai Junior with a solid hit.
Tensions boiled over with a scuffle resulting after Pangai Junior gave away one of many Bulldogs’ penalties for a late tackle. The Eels ultimately saw no advantage from this penalty after dropping the ball on tackle one and allowing Addo-Carr to gather the ball again. Maika Sivo – in his first game back after injury – was the last line of defence and forced an error to save another almost certain try.
Following this, an offload from Isaiah Papali’i and a line break from the offload recipient (Reagan Campbell-Gillard) saw Parramatta close to scoring a long-range try, before the next pass from Campbell-Gillard found the waiting hands of Jake Averillo, who turned defence into attack and scored a length-of-the-field try.
Despite the Bulldogs’ defence remaining uncharacteristically solid, and denying Parramatta the chance to make much-needed metres, the Dogs continued to invite the Eels back into the game with relieving penalty after relieving penalty (8-3 being the count at half time). Canterbury-Bankstown’s lack of discipline only went unpunished points-wise due to the matching lack of ball control on display by Parramatta, with scoring opportunities going begging through continuous knock-ons.
Following an all-in melee, including a possible headbutt missed by officials, Parramatta found themselves continuously kicking from well within their own half and unable to create sustained attacking pressure, with the weight of field position eventually seeing the Bulldogs in prime attacking position, after a period of end-to-end footy. An overlap on Canterbury’s right wing saw young Jacob Kiraz sell the dummy and race away for the Bulldogs’ third try with 14 minutes remaining in the half.
The first half concluded in the same fashion it had played out for the previous 40 minutes, with Reed Mahoney forcing a goal line drop out, as both Dylan Brown and Mitchell Moses had been extremely understated in their touches with the ball. In a fitting fashion for the Eels’ evening, the half ended before the drop out could be taken by the Bulldogs.
HALF-TIME: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 16 Parramatta Eels 0Embed from Getty Images
Parramatta came into the second half with a strong chance for their first points after receiving a somewhat lucky penalty, but were unable to force their way over the line with the Bulldogs’ goal-line defence holding strong. Once again, Parramatta had a try sent to The Bunker, and Bailey Simonsson was ruled to have knocked the ball on in what could be seen as a 50/50 call.
Pangai Junior and Jeremy Marshall-King were seemingly involved in everything, with Marshall-King coming up with try saving tackles and attacking opportunities alike. Sivo made it known that he is back in the NRL with his iconic “don’t argue” fend leaving Kyle Flanagan on the ground, although the Bulldogs’ defence would not let him through to convert his run into points.
Deja vu set in in the 47th minute with a Burton special delivering a kick into the waiting hands of Addo-Carr for his second try of the night in an impressive bid to regain his Blues position for game two of State of Origin. Barely five minutes on from the Burton and Addo-Carr masterclass 2.0, Addo-Carr took a signature intercept and outran the Parramatta defenders for a hat-trick.
If there was a time for the tide to turn on the Dogs, it came from a drop by Jake Averillo from a monster Mitch Moses kick which ended up over the dead ball line, forcing a goal-line drop-out. This drop-out turned into a penalty for a time violation, although the Bulldogs’ defence remained strong despite a full set on their goal-line, with Parramatta throwing the ball around as if suddenly playing touch footy.
As was seen in the first half, the Bulldogs continued to invite Parramatta back into the contest with lazy penalties. However, Parramatta also continued very much in the same vein as their first half performance, with a Moses line break and pass to Mahoney knocked on.
Finally, something gave and the amount of time Parramatta had spent with the ball in hand inside the Bulldogs’ red zone amounted to points, with Will Penisini taking advantage of a gap on the Bulldogs’ left edge defence to give the Eels their first (and only) points of the match.
Addo-Carr was seen limping in back play following play restarting after Moses misses the conversion attempt, but appeared to pull up alright and continue on. It appeared for a second that Parramatta might be able to produce a miracle when Moses broke through to put the ball down under the posts, until for the third time in the game, a no-try was ruled. The replay summed up the Parramatta Eels’ night: Moses had the ball knocked out of his hand over the line by Burton in a one-on-one try saving effort.
If the Bulldogs didn’t already have the game locked up with eight minutes left to play, fullback Averillo made sure of it, crossing for his second try of the night. A fast piece of play saw Zach Dockar-Clay receive a late offload and explode through the line before handing the ball off to Max King who found Flanagan in support. Flanagan promptly teamed up with his halves partner Burton, who once again placed a deft kick in the in-goal, which sat up just enough for Averillo, who won the race to the ball with the Parramatta defenders to plant it down for the final points of the night.
In the most fitting way to end this match, Parramatta found themselves once again on the end of a “no try” ruling from The Bunker, after it was found that Clint Gutherson lost the ball over the line in the 76th minute. It was a messy last few minutes of play, with Parramatta desperate to try and add any points they could to the board, and the Bulldogs aiming to run down the clock to secure just their third win of the 2022 season and promote themselves to 15th position.
FULL-TIME: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 34 Parramatta Eels 4
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Josh Addo-Carr (Bulldogs), 2 pts – Matt Burton (Bulldogs), 1 pt – Jake Averillo (Bulldogs)
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