The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have gone down 42-36 in their NSW Cup trial against the North Sydney Bears today in their first hit out of the year.
Even a hat-trick to impressive halfback Lindon McGrady couldn’t get the Bulldogs over the line, after they dominated possession in the first half.
Both sides traded blows within the first 10 minutes, with the home side opening the scoring in the 6th minute before Bears prop Ronny Alovili scored a barnstorming try under the posts to level at 6-6
The North Sydney lock went over untouched on the left after the dogs were outnumbered in defence to take the lead. The number 6 Matt Evans, converted the try to take them to 12-6 after 13 minutes of play.
Temperatures sweltered around the 30-degree mark and a water break was called 18 minutes into the match.
Back from the break, the Canterbury defence was tiring and the Bears started to get a roll on up the field. Against the run of play, a great cross-field kick landed straight in the hands of the Bulldogs winger and he went over. Conversion attempt was good they levelled up the scores.
The restart was kicked out on the full and the momentum started to change. The Dogs were in again five minutes later through electric halfback Lindon McGrady, who went straight through a gap from 5 metres out to take lead. Fullback Levi Dodd added the extras to lead 18-12.
Canterbury really put their foot down in the second twenty minutes, dominating the possession and starving the Bears of field position. With five minutes to go in the half, the dogs were still pressuring down the left edge but a try to the Bears five eighth Shae Moran slowed their momentum. The kick was good by Kurt Aldridge to level the scores at the break 18-all.
Back from the break and Canterbury were again devastating down the flanks. A 40m break down the left wing by fullback Levi Dodd, followed by a strong left foot step beat the opposing winger and put the Bears on the back foot.
A strong run through the ruck was followed by a 2nd try to McGrady who crossed over for his second of the day. Dodd added the extras to take the lead again.
Canterbury’s energy levels were down and the Bears scored three quick tries in 8 minutes. First, a break down the right side led to a centre field try to centre Tui Paiova in the 52nd minute. Then two more quick tries to Shae Jarvis and Jackson Williams took the Bears to a 32-24 lead at three quarter time.
Back from the water break and with thirteen minutes left on the clock, Bulldogs excitement machine Lindon McGrady went over for his third try of the day after some good lead up work by monster 2nd rower Shaun Lane on the right side.
A short kick off attempt was thwarted by the bulldogs and with 7 minutes to play, a quick pass by Nathen Massey put second rower Chris Binge into a big hole 5 metres out before drawing the fullback and passing back to Massey to score under the posts. Dodd converted his 7th successful conversion from 7 attempts to get the home side back to within 2 points.
A crucial knock on from Bears winger and ex-first grade player Michael Bani in the 76th minute gave the Bulldogs hope of stealing the match. However the ball was put down on first tackle, and two minutes later North Sydney sealed the win with a 78th minute try to second rower Jesse Roberts.
In a back and forth game that saw nearly 80 points score, the away side eventually finished as 42-36 winners.