The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs piled on the points in their Mother’s Day clash against the Dragons, running out 38-6 victors in front of 21,077 fans at ANZ Stadium.
The win was the Bulldog’s sixth consecutive and put them two points clear at the top of the Telstra Premiership table. The blue and whites continued where they left off before last weekend’s representative round and looked sharp in running in their seven tries, with Tim Lafai scoring a hat-trick.
In keeping the Dragons to just six points the Bulldogs also maintained their status as the best defensive team in the competition, conceding just 112 points after nine rounds.
There was only one late change to the Bulldog’s team with winger Chase Stanley rewarded for his strong NSW Cup form since returning from a shoulder injury. He came into the side at the expense of Corey Thompson.
The first penalty of match went to the Bulldogs in the 3rd minute and a subsequent strong run from Josh Jackson put the Bulldogs in attacking territory. A couple of tackles later Josh Reynolds spread the ball out to Sam Perrett who cut through the Dragon’s defence to post the first points of the match. Trent Hodkinson slotted the extras for an early 6-0 lead.
In the 9th minute the Bulldogs were at it again when Hodkinson kicked for Stanley’s corner and after a mid-air scramble, Tony Williams picked up the loose ball and planted it down. Hodkinson missed the conversion leaving the score line at 10-0.
A Josh Morris error in the 15th minute gave Dragons their first attacking opportunity but the Bulldog’s defence proved too strong forcing an error.
In the 24th minute an offload from Sam Kasiano only metres from the Dragon’s line put the home side on the back foot and the ball found its way out to Jackson who wrapped around with Lafai to send the centre over for the Bulldog’s third try of the match. Hodkinson added the two for a 16-0 lead.
Dragons forced a repeat set in the 29th minute, and were then awarded a penalty late in the tackle count but great goal line defence forced an error. The Bulldogs charged up the field in the next set of six and a Jackson grubber fell kindly for Lafai who toed the ball through to collect his second try of the afternoon. The conversion of Hodkinson was successful and in the 34th minute the score was 22-0.
The Bulldogs went to the break barking with a 22-0 lead. A possession tally of 55%, 10 offloads and a 17/20 completion rate would ensure coach Des Hasler was very happy at the 40 minute mark.
It only took Bulldogs four minutes into the second half to cross the stripe again with a slick backline movement giving Lafai enough room to dance his way through the Dragon’s defence and post his hat-trick. Hodkinson struck the post with his conversion and in the 46th minute it was 26-0.
A clever one on one strip from Reynolds in the 59th minute scuppered any threat of a building Dragons attack after a Josh Dugan break earlier in the set.
In the 61st minute a great exchange between Williams and Morris sent the Kangaroo centre streaking away up the middle of the field and after drawing in Dugan he sent Greg Eastwood on his way to score under the posts in his 150th NRL appearance. Hodkinson made no mistake with the conversion and the scoreboard read an impressive 32-0.
Reynolds soon after sprinted 90m after taking an intercept in the 68th minute and although noted speedsters Dugan and Brett Morris were chasing, the five-eight proved too slippery and extended the Bulldog’s lead further. Hodkinson added the two to make it 38-0.
Dragons scored a late consolation through Brett Morris with just three minutes left on the clock. Gareth Widdop slotted the conversion from the sideline to make the score 38-6.
The Dragons peppered the Bulldog’s line in the final stages of the match but came up empty-handed with the full-time score staying at a resounding 38-6.
Bulldogs next Sunday afternoon take their Round 10 home game across the ditch to play the Warriors at Waikato Stadium. Kick off 4pm local time.
BULLDOGS 38 (Lafai 3, Perrett, Williams, Eastwood, Reynolds Tries; Hodkinson 5 Goals) def. DRAGONS 6 (Morris Tries; Widdop 1 Goal)
At: ANZ Stadium