The writing was on the wall very early in the match, with Sydney Roosters setting up a big lead but a determined Bulldogs side didn’t give up the fight.
Moses Mbye returned to the team at the expense of Josh Reynolds, who sustained a knee injury against Sharks which could see him miss the rest of the regular season. Meanwhile, Frank Pritchard and Curtis Rona were late withdrawals, which saw Corey Thompson come onto the wing and Shaun Lane into the starting side. Danny Fualalo came onto the interchange bench.
A rampant Roosters jumped out to a 22-0 lead after 25 minutes and despite Bulldogs clawing their way back to find the front with just over 10 minutes remaining, two late tries to the Roosters sealed a 38-28 win. An unlikely victory would have been the biggest comeback in the club’s history!
Roosters struck early with a Mitchell Pearce grubber finding Daniel Tupou in the 6th minute. It was on the back of a controversial turnover where Aidan Guerra was ruled not have played at a charge down. James Maloney added the extras for 6-0.
On the back of a penalty, Roosters went in for a second try with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck proving too slippery for Trent Hodkinson. Maloney failed to convert to leave it 10-0 in the 12th minute.
It was soon a third for the Roosters, with Tupou flying high to collect a bomb after his teammates had kept the ball alive on the last tackle. Maloney converted for 16-0. At this point of the game it was all Roosters, who were seven from seven in completing their sets.
Maloney cut through to send Michael Jennings over in the 25th minute and after Maloney added the extras from directly in front, the score blew out to 22-0.
Bulldogs capitalised on a good spell of possession in the 29th with Shaun Lane winning the chase to a well-placed Mbye grubber. The spring was back in the boys step and they went back-to-back after a penalty carted them up field. A short ball from Brett Morris gave Josh Morris a bit of space to force his way over in a great show of strength. Hodkinson cut the lead back to 12 in the 34th minute, successfully converting.
A bone-rattling collision involving Kane Evans and Sam Kasiano from the subsequent the kick-off was ruled illegal by the referee, with Evans placed on report for a shoulder charge. The fireworks were on. Bulldogs failed to make anything of the possession though, but the tide had definitely turned! It was all Bulldogs, with Kasiano leading the pack with a bout of aggression and Mbye working his way into the game.
The blue and whites had one final tilt at the Roosters with time in the first half running out and after Mbye was held up earlier in the set, he recomposed himself to throw a brilliant cut out ball to Thompson who tiptoed down the sideline to score in the corner. With the siren sounding, Hodkinson sent his conversion just wide for 22-16 at the break. What a fight back!
It was a bright start to the second half for the Bulldogs with Lane making a half-break in the opening moments and despite a terrific Brett Morris bootlaces pickup from the offload, the attack petered out.
Bulldogs mounted another promising attack, again through Lane, in the 47th minute with an offload opening things up down the left but a forward pass to Thompson halted the play. Roosters were soon after denied a try by the video referee for a Brendan Elliot double movement.
There was no denying Hodkinson in the 51st minute though with the half-back throwing a clever dummy before doing a wonderful job to plant the ball down reversing over the line. He converted his own try to lock it up at 22-22.
Thompson then collected a double, on the back of another brilliant cut out ball from Mbye, who found the winger from a scrum set move. Hodkinson nailed the conversion for 28-22 with 57 minutes gone.
Roosters caught a lucky break in the 61st minute, gifted a dropout which put them on the attack, but a brilliant defensive set saw them turned away empty-handed. It started a good period of possession for Roosters and the Bulldog wall finally gave way in the 69th minute with Blake Ferguson driving his way over in the right corner. Maloney struck the post with his conversion for 28-26.
Jennings broke the hearts of Bulldog’s supporters in the 75th minute after he pounced on a grubber that Sam Perrett was ushering over the dead ball line.
A big hit from a charged Jared Waerea-Hargreave dislodged the carry of Tim Browne in the 77th minute giving Roosters the chance to seal the deal. Pearce came close deep into the set but lost control short of the line. One last set for the Bulldogs to go the distance.
A chip kick from Mbye for Brett Morris early in the six was cleaned up by the Roosters and they ran down the clock before kicking for touch with 23 seconds left on the clock. A messy move from the scrub saw Eastwood spill the ball for Roosters utility Jackson Hastings to swoop in and collect a four-pointer under the posts. Maloney nudged over the conversion for a 38-28 final score.
Tough beat but a great effort to claw back the big early deficit. Always proud to be a Bulldog!
Bulldogs face a tough road trip next Friday night, heading north to face the table-topping Broncos at Suncorp Stadium. Kick-off 7:45pm local time.
Roosters 38 (Tupou 2, Jennings 2, Tuivasa-Sheck, Ferguson, Hastings Tries; Maloney 5 Goals) def. BULLDOGS 28 (Thompson 2, Lane, J.Morris, Hodkinson Tries; Hodkinson 4 Goals)
At: Allianz Stadium