Bulldogs Hold On

The Bulldogs have held on for a 16-14 victory over the Dragons tonight in front of 22,958 fans at ANZ Stadium.


There was just one change to the side with Josh Reynolds called up into the NSW State of Origin side it was Joel Romelo who Coach Des Hasler opted to go with and started in jersey number 19.


Coach Des Hasler was impressed as it was one of those grinding victories that the side managed to win.


"It was a tough grinding win and with the surface out there it was one of those games that we managed to hold on," Hasler said. "The Dragons played well but it was just one of those grinding games, that's all I can say."


The Coach was also impressed with Reynolds' replacement Romelo.


"I thought he went really well tonight, he is a clever player and was a well deserved man of the match."


The opening 20 minutes were played from end to end with very little to show from either side. Both sides were getting into the grind and working hard through the middle but neither side could break the line and gain the upper hand.


25th min: The first points came through centre Tim Lafai in the 25th minute. A Dugan on their 40m line followed by a penalty against Leeson Ah Mau gave the home side a great attacking opportunity starting from just 15m out. After a few settling tackles the Bulldogs then turned on the gas and a well constructed play ended with Lafai getting the inside ball and sliding through a yawning gap. Trent Hodkinson kept his solid kicking form going, converting from five metres to the left of the uprights to give the Bulldogs a 6-nil lead.


30th min: From the return set Dragons interchange forward Leeson Ah Mau was replaced on report for a high shot on Aiden Tolman and from there the Bulldogs were again able to put them in good field position. The blue and whites worked to the last tackle and Romelo put in a smart kick and Drury Low got above Jason Nightingale to bat the ball back to Lafai who went over in the north-west corner. Hodkinson beautifully converted from the sideline to extend the lead out to 12-nil.


37th min: The Dragons registered their first points off the back of a Josh Jackson error 18m out from his own line. A heavy tackle saw the ball come loose and Dragons centre Matt Prior picked up the scraps and threw the ball through his legs out to Soward who went over in the south-east corner. Ben Barba then got placed on report for coming across late on Soward and making contact with his back well after the try was scored resulting in an eight point try opportunity being awarded. Soward converted both from out wide and from in front to close the gap to 12-8.


The remainder of the half was played out through the middle with both sides heading to the sheds looking for some wise words from their respective coaches for the second half.


46th min: It was the ideal start to the second stanza with Sam Perrett crossing early in the piece. An error off the Dragons gifted the ball to the home side 40m out from the red and whites line. Again the set was pieced together and it was a movement from left to right that had the Dragons reeling but the telling factor was a great right handed flick pass from Mitch Brown on to Perrett. Hodkinson was looking to keep his great kicking record going but the ball hit the left upright and was waved away by the touch judges with the score remaining 16-8.


Frank Pritchard had a try disallowed soon after with the Kiwi international unable to ground the ball after a Hodkinson cross-kick.


74th min: A Nathan Fien grubber through for Josh Dugan ignited the Dragons attack and when Low had to bat the ball into touch giving the Dragons another set. From there the Dragons were able to get the ball to the left and an overhead pass from Soward on to Prior who went over to score untouched. Soward converted to close the gap to 16-14.


80th min: With the game on the line the Dragons were looking at taking any opportunity possible but also looking to create something out of nothing. It was Dugan who took the chance and as his chip over the top hit the deck it was a flying Barba who swooped on to the ball and went 70m to go round and score. So the crowd thought. The referees wanted to check whether Pritchard had taken out Dugan after the kick and that's the decision Luke Phillips and Luke Patten agreed with giving the Dragons a penalty 34m out and 8m in from the eastern touchline. Soward elected to take the shot at goal and with the crowd on the edge of their seats it was the blue and whites who celebrated as the shot sailed outside of the left upright and Barba took the ball and placed it over the dead-ball line.


BULLDOGS 16 (Lafai 2, Perrett Tries; Hodkinson 2 Goals)


Def.


DRAGONS 14 (Soward, Prior Tries; Soward 3 Goals)


At: ANZ Stadium


Crowd: 22,958