Memorable Moment v Canberra
The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs gave retiring skipper Andrew Ryan the best possible send off, defeating the Canberra Raiders 36 points to 22 in their final round clash at ANZ Stadium.
Ben Barba scored four tries to finish equal top of the NRL’s top try scoring list for the season, ending up on 23 for the season alongside South Sydney custodian Nathan Merritt.
Josh Morris scored first and last for the Dogs in a match in which they trailed 18-8 early in the second half.
The Dogs pulled back the deficit with two Barba tries inside two minutes, seeing them rocket to a lead that they would never relinquish.
Fittingly, Ryan crossed midway through the half to secure the result, while the seven-year skipper converted the second Morris try after earlier missing a tough conversion attempt following on from Barba’s fourth try of the afternoon.
The Bulldogs started the match on fire, enjoying three clear chances in their first set at the Raiders line.
While the first two went unrewarded, with Barba going closest before stumbling just short of the line, the third paid dividends with Morris touching down in the corner off a sweeping play to the left.
The Raiders struck to take the lead after a quarter of an hour, Josh McCrone exploiting some slow sliding defence from the Dogs to touch down midway between the posts and the sideline.
Jarrod Croker’s conversion made it 6-4 in favour of the visitors.
After being forced to defend their way out of trouble through the middle of the half, the Bulldogs swooped on a Josh Dugan knock on from a kick to add to their total six minutes out from half time.
Picking up the spilt ball Ben Barba headed for the corner before running out of space, propping, and going again to touch down for his 20th try of the year wide out for an 8-6 lead.
Two minutes out from the break Barba was in the thick of the action again, tapping a ball back into the field of play for Jonathan Wright to kick ahead and score, however video referee Phil Cooley ruled no try with replays showing Wright planted the ball on the touch in goal line.
With one last play for the half the Raiders got the benefit of a Cooley call down the other end, awarding a try to Croker after Blake Ferguson had appeared to knock the ball on in the air.
The Dogs were on the rack when McCrone scored his second ten minutes into second time, Croker making it three from three to put the visitors out to a 10 point lead.
Cue Ben Barba.
The Fullback was right on the spot to pounce on a perfectly weighted Kris Keating grubber to score in the 54th minute, with Steve Turner’s conversion reducing the gap to four at 18-14.
One minute later quick hands from Andrew Ryan and Wright put Morris into the clear, and again the fullback loomed to score his third try – and his second in as many minutes – to put the Dogs back into the lead at 20-18.
The hat trick saw Barba move to 22 tries for the year.
Then the man they call Bobcat speared over ten metres to the left of the posts, before nearly disabling himself in a post try celebration that involved him jumping – and slipping – onto one of the Bobcat earthmovers parked behind the in goals to mark his retirement game.
Turner’s conversion gave the Bulldogs an eight point lead, and while the Raiders would peg one try back through a try wide out to Reece Robinson, narrowing the gap to four points at 26-22, the win would soon come for the Bulldogs.
Barba bagged his fourth try five minutes from time, before Morris bagged an intercept to race 95 metres to score the final try of the match.
An emotional afternoon came to an end with Ryan and fellow departing players Michael Hodgson, Ben Roberts, Gary Warburton and Mickey Paea being joined by their team mates on a long lap of honour, bringing down the curtain on the 2011 season.