The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs this afternoon went down fighting 22-12 to the Parramatta Eels in front of 24,012 fans at ANZ Stadium.
There was a raft of changes to the Bulldogs side with Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson again on Origin duty while Aiden Tolman and Chase Stanley joined Moses Mbye, Josh Morris and Frank Pritchard on the sidelines.
Josh Jackson partnered skipper Michael Ennis in the halves with former Dragon Damien Cook making his first appearance for the Bulldog’s first grade team, slotting in at hooker. Corey Thompson was recalled to the wing with Krisnan Inu pushing into the centres and Pat O’Hanlon coming off the bench.
Too many errors and a lack of execution proved costly for the Bulldogs who in the end were no match for the Eels who ran in five tries to the Bulldog’s one. Further injuries to Sam Perrett and David Klemmer didn’t help the cause.
In a frantic opening, great scrambling defence denied the Eels in the 5th minute after Chris Sandow, who started the game at fullback, made a break at half-way and skipped past a few defenders but was hauled down by Mitch Brown metres from the line.
After Sandow was forced out close to his own line giving the Bulldogs the scrum feed just 10m out and the chance to post first points, an intercept on the second tackle saw Semi Radradra run 95m to score under the posts in the 18th minute. Sandown converted to make it 6-0.
Sandow again found open space in the 23rd minute before drawing in Perrett and releasing Vai Toutai to score untouched. The conversion was waved away with the score remaining 10-0.
Inu was denied in the 27th minute for a double movement and that was as close as the Bulldogs came to scoring in the first half.
It was an uninspired first 40 minutes from the blue and whites, who went the break with a 10 point deficit to recover. To make matters worse, Perrett limped off up the tunnel with a knee injury a couple of minutes before the siren sounded, while David Klemmer wouldn’t see any further action after suffering an earlier ankle injury.
Bulldogs were gifted an opportunity to open their account soon after the break with Sandow, who seemed to be involved in everything, fumbling a bomb. A backline movement created space for Thompson and after an in and away, did well to plant the ball down before being shown the sideline. Inu was on kicking duties and slotted it from the sideline to make it 10-6 in the 46th minute.
It was a much brighter Bulldogs unit in the second half, noticeably with extra sting in defence, however, a clever short-side play from Parramatta after back-to-back penalties stunted the Bulldog’s momentum in the 58th minute with Toutai crossing for his second of the match. Sandow failed to covert leaving the score 14-6.
Eels struck another blow in the 67th minute after an offload from Junior Paulo sent centre Ryan Morgan crashing over. Corey Norman failed to convert leaving the score 18-6.
Parramatta capped the win in the 75th minute with Morgan bringing up his double courtesy of a line break from Isaac De Gois. Norman couldn’t add the extras, with the score staying 22-6.
Thompson not long after brought up a double of his own, grubbering through for himself and beating Sandow to the put down with just two minutes remaining. It was the winger’s fifth try of the season. Ennis added the two and 22-12 was the way it stayed.
Bulldogs next Friday night head down the highway to face Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium for a 7:45pm kick-off, local time.
EELS 22 (Toutai 2, Morgan 2, Radradra Tries; Sandow 1 Goal) def. BULLDOGS 12 (Thompson 2 Tries; Inu, Ennis Goals)
At: ANZ Stadium