The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs chalked up their first win of the 2014 NRL season with a 42-4 mauling of the Sharks at ANZ Stadium in front of 12,057 fans.
The signs were ominous from the start for the visiting side after Tony Williams was held up in just the 5th minute. It wasn’t long before the Bulldogs had their first of the night though with Frank Pritchard collecting a deflection from a Trent Hodkinson kick. Hodkinson converted from sideline to make it 6-0.
It was all Bulldogs in the opening 20 minutes but the Sharks very nearly scored against the run of play in the 19th minute. A strong piece of defence from Mitch Brown denied ex-Bulldog winger Jono Wright, who was bundled over the in-goal line.
Bulldogs marched back up the field and in the 22nd minute extended the lead via Michael Ennis. Ennis put through a grubber and the ball bounced kindly for the Bulldogs captain to regather himself. Hodkinson added the extras and it was 12-0.
A sharp piece of work from Josh Reynolds, who slid across the field before popping an offload to Chase Stanley, saw the centre score his first try in a Bulldogs jersey. Hodkinson again slotted the conversion and in the 30th minute the scoreboard read 18-0.
A Sharks mistake in the 34th minute gave Bulldogs possession deep in their own territory and from the next set, Hodkinson drifted across the field, offered a show and go, before wrapping around with Stanley who sprinted through the gap to collect his second of the night. From next to the posts, Hodkinson made it 24-0.
Bulldogs went to the sheds with a 24-point lead. Stanley’s first half stats of 6 runs for 65m and two tries deserves mention while James Graham, with 13 runs and 17 tackles, again led the way for the Bulldogs’ pack. He was closely followed by new recruit Pat O’Hanlon with 11 runs for 90m.
It took the Bulldogs just eight minutes into the second half to warm to the task again with a Williams pass putting Hodkinson over the line. After consultation with the video referee, the try was awarded. Hodkinson added the two to make it 30-0 in the 49th minute.
Sharks, in the following 10 minutes, after a string of penalties and a repeat set, still couldn’t crack the Bulldogs defence. It was a chance for the home side to show that their defence was every bit as good as their attack on the night.
In the 60th minute a Reynolds cut out pass bounced out to Corey Thompson who stretched out to score his first NRL try, after the video referee’s nod of approval. Hodkinson kept his perfect record intact slotting from the sideline to make it 36-0.
Hodkinson was again in the thick of the action in the 68th minute supplying a short ball which put Josh Morris across the line. Hodkinson added the extras, capping a big night for the halfback, making it 42-0.
Bulldogs were denied what would have been the try of the night in the 74th minute. Reynolds kicked early in the set from inside his own half for a flying Morris to scoop up the ball and dive over. It was sent upstairs only to be denied for offside.
Sharks crossed for a late consolation in the final minutes of the match, with Wright sliding across in the corner.
BULLDOGS 42 (Stanley 2, Pritchard, Ennis, Hodkinson, Thompson, Morris; Hodkinson 7 Goals) def. SHARKS 4 (Wright Tries)
At: ANZ Stadium