It was seven tries to four at the end of the 80 minutes with Tony Williams and Sam Kasiano both crossing for two tries each in the second half. A 20 minute period from the 51st to 71st minute sealed the win with four tries scored in that period.
Coach Des Hasler believed the Dragons really put up a fight tonight and his side just managed to take advantage of the momentum change.
“Momentum was a big part of the match tonight,” Hasler said. “Once we got some set to set action we got on a bit of a roll.
“I like the way the Dragons play and we knew they would come out tonight and give us a run.
“It’s a difficult place to play.”
There was just one change to the starting side with Josh Jackson being promoted to the starting side and Tony Williams shifting back to the interchange bench.
An early error from the Dragons gifted the Bulldogs possession 40m out from the line and after easing their way through the set and on the last halfback Trent Hodkinson put in a grubber which ricocheted off a number of legs and the number seven picked up the scraps and dived over the line to score. With the wind blowing into his face, Hodkinson couldn’t convert his own try with the visitors out to an early 4-nil lead after five minutes of play.
Back to back penalties against the home side gifted the blue and whites quality field position that the Dragons just couldn’t keep out. As movement to the left was orchestrated by local junior Josh Reynolds who pushed to the line and tipped it on to a charging Jackson who hit a great line and slipped past Daniel Vidot and Adam Quinlan to score. The breeze again caused some concern for Hodkinson and he couldn’t convert with the score 12-nil after as many minutes.
The flow of possession changed through the next passage of play with the home side opening their account in the 26th minute of play. Back to back penalties, followed by a Sam Perrett error and then another penalty had the Bulldogs camped on their own line for a number of minutes. After a couple of hit-ups through the middle the Dragons then shifted it wide to the recently re-signed Josh Dugan who used some good footwork to push through the line and score. The wind was playing havoc with both kickers with Dugan unable to convert leaving the score at 8-4.
On the stroke of half-time the Dragons were awarded another penalty after catching the Bulldogs in defence. And with very little happening the home side simply gave the ball to Dugan in hope the fullback could create something. That he did, putting a grubber through behind the line and with no last line of defence in sight he won the race to the ball and scored. From just 10m to the right of the uprights he converted his try and sent the red and whites to the sheds leading 10-8.
Coach Hasler would have been hoping for a good start to the second stanza and that looked to have happened in the first set after Dale Finucane went across the line but as he went to ground the ball he lost control giving the Dragons a restart from the 20m line.
The Dragons had the ball and they used it well and off the back of a penalty it was Dugan again involved who created the next of the Dragons tries. The fullback was everywhere and when he met the defence he managed to offload to his centre, Nathan Green who after had the ball bobble out of his hands, managed to regather the ball and pass it on to Jason Nightingale who went over to score. Dugan couldn’t convert with the lead now a converted try, 14-8 after 43 minutes.
The lead was extended just five minutes later through centre Daniel Vidot. It was five-eighth Adam Quinlan who threw a great cut-out ball that Perrett made a play for but it was just out of reach and Vidot cruised over untouched to score. Dugan converted on this occasion with the lead out to two converted tries, 20-8.
The visitors needed to be the next to score and that they did. From the restart Quinlan went from hero to villain when he knocked on giving the Bulldogs the ball 10m out. From that set Hodkinson tipped it on to a charging Tony Williams who went over to score. Hodkinson converted to begin the fight back with the score 20-14 in favour of the Dragons.
From that point it was all the Bulldogs with big Sam Kasiano crossing for a double and Williams adding a second to his belt for the night. Hodkinson converted them all and also slotted a home a field goal for good measure with the final score being 39-20 in favour of the good guys.
BULLDOGS 39 (Hodkinson, Jackson, Willaims 2, Kasiano 2, Morris Tries; Hodkinson 5 Goals; Hodkinson 1 Field Goal)
DRAGONS 20 (Dugan 2, Nightingale, Vidot Tries; Dugan 2 Goals)
At: WIN Jubilee Oval