Wests Tigers v Bulldogs: Five Key Points
The Bulldogs reminded the rest of the competition of their fearsome potential in a comfortable 36-4 win over a Tigers team that lost Robbie Farah midway through the first half with a neck injury.
Perrett and Hopoate singing from the same hymn sheet
Any fears the Bulldogs would struggle without star fullback Will Hopoate were quashed just one game into his three week sabbatical.
Sam Perrett – a fellow Mormon – slotted in admirably into the role just one day after his 31st birthday, scoring a try and running for 169 from 20 carries in a performance that would have made Hopoate proud.
But it was his work in the second half that really stood out, Perrett throwing the final pass for all three tries including a gem of a set play involving James Graham and Craig Garvey.
"Given the circumstances, he's just a real pro," Hasler said of his fullback.
"People forget that he played a [grand final] there a couple of years ago and he played a whole season there. He's just got that finesse."
Elijah tailor-made for the Tigers
Despite the one-sided affair, Tigers coach Jason Taylor heaped plenty of praise on new recruit Elijah Taylor who only joined the club at the start of the week after securing a mid-season release from the Panthers.
The hard-working middle forward lived up to his reputation as a defensive beast with 50 tackles in 70 minutes, and also provided some classy touches in attack including a tip on that led to his team's only try.
"He really defended well in the middle of the field which is what he does, and he added some nice creativity around the ruck for us," coach Taylor said.
"We've only had him for a week so we'll be able to develop that over the next few weeks so that was a real positive for us."
Graham not dirty on clothesline non-call
No one would have batted an eyelid had Tigers fullback Justin Hunt been sent off for his spectacular high shot on Bulldogs halfback Moses Mbye in the 35th minute.
The incident was placed on report instead, with Bulldogs skipper James Graham seen gesticulating with the referee afterwards.
The Englishman said he was happy with Hunt to stay on the field, acknowledging that the rules in rugby league were slightly different to the round-ball game he grew up watching in the UK.
"I was just sort of claiming that I thought he might have been the last man, but I realised we were playing rugby league… it's not football," the Bulldogs skipper explained.
"I was probably claiming on field that it should have been a professional foul. I don't like to see a team reduced to 12 men. I certainly wouldn't want to be calling for him to be sent off looking back at it now."
Warm-up woes continue for Wests
Sauaso Sue became the second player in as many matches to be ruled out for the Tigers just before kick-off after succumbing to a rib injury in the pre-game warm-up.
The incident followed Mitch Moses' withdrawal prior to the South Sydney match in Round 9 after he injured his quad minutes before the game started.
The Tigers were dealt further blows throughout the game with Robbie Farah stretchered from the field with a neck injury; club officials are hopeful he will be alright.
Josh Aloiai lasted just five minutes before being forced off with concussion while Tim Simona left the field early in the game for a concussion test but was able to return.
Graham raises the bat in style
It probably wasn't as flashy as Chris Gayle's Big Bash League century at the same venue in 2011, but James Graham can proudly say he has played 100 NRL games after leading his side to a big win at ANZ Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Graham was at his brilliant best on Sunday afternoon, making 37 tackles and running for 176 metres from his 21 carries while also adding a line break assist.
The Bulldogs skipper has loved his time in the NRL and was proud of reaching triple figures for the blue and whites.
"I've enjoyed every single one – win, lose or draw. It's a huge honour to play a ton for a club like Canterbury," Graham said.