Dragons v Bulldogs: Five Key Points
The Bulldogs recorded a 34-16 win over the Dragons but it wasn't without controversy with back-rower Tony Williams allowed to play on from an accidental knock-on and set up a crucial Will Hopoate try midway through the second half.
Hopoate try by the letter of the law
Almost everyone was left scratching their head when Will Hopoate was given the green light for his 60th minute try. Williams was the man who scored the crucial four-pointer but it wasn't without an unprecedented effort from bullocking Tony Williams. While attempting to pass the ball Williams threw it into his own hand, which travelled over the Dragons defence, before he regathered it and handed it off to the Bulldogs fullback. The rulebook however confirms that it was a legal try.
"If – after knocking on accidently – the player knocking on regains or kicks the ball before it touches the ground, a goal post, cross bar or an opponent, then play shall be allowed to proceed," the NRL rulebook reads.
T-Rex's NRL return proves fruitful
Try assist aside – with Bulldogs coach Des Hasler labelling it a "good show and go" – Williams was immense for his side off the bench. Williams was dropped to the Intrust Super Premiership five weeks ago before injuring his hamstring. On return, the former Blues and Kangaroos representative made 190 metres, three tackle breaks, forced a drop out and also had a hand in Moses Mbye's 30th minute try.
"He was outstanding. Personally for Tony, I know he's been pretty disappointed of late. But he took it on the chin and we tailored his game," Hasler said.
"He had an injury setback among all of that but I thought he bounced back really, really well and produced a champion performance. He needs to maintain that now and I know he will. I'm pleased for him and so too are the players."
Benji slowly building back to form
After an injury-riddled season so far, Dragons halfback Benji Marshall showed glimpses that good form isn't too far around the corner. In a period earlier in the second half, Marshall laid on a kick for Kurt Mann's second try of the game in the 48th minute and then four minutes later forced a drop out with a nifty grubber back inside of the Bulldogs' defence.
"He had some nice touches," Dragons coach Paul McGregor said post-game.
"I thought our attack looked quite sharp at different stages when we were controlling field position but we gave up a lot of our opportunities in conceding yardage metres.
"We were starting from our end a little bit too much but certainly I had a chat about the halves [prior to the press conference] and Gareth felt that the flow of the game was really good at different stages."
Less is more for Bulldogs
The Bulldogs had to wait a whole week to bounce back from their disappointing last-gasp loss to the Sharks last Monday evening and didn't they unleash on the poor Dragons. 11 of the Bulldogs' 17 made over 100 metres with Sam Perrett and Tim Browne only five metres off the century mark as well. Overall the Bulldogs made 470 more metres (2117 overall) than the Dragons, who at times looked every bit a team that hadn't played in 16 days.
Does Brett Morris need to slot back at fullback?
Brett Morris is due back after the Bulldogs' Round 15 bye but considering the form of Hopoate of late, is there a rush to shift the veteran NSW and Kangaroos representative back in the No. 1 jumper? Curtis Rona is more than capable of playing in the centres if Hasler wanted to slowly bring Morris back into the action on the wing. Hopoate's form at the back has been immense for the Bulldogs' fortunes in 2016 so it'll certainly be interesting to see how Morris's return at the back impacts the flow of the side.