Big Sam Kasiano provided the impetus for a stunning opening 20 minutes by Canterbury as they moved into 2nd spot on the table with a 28-20 win over the Dragons in Wollongong.
“He’s unbelievable,” Kasiano’s team-mate Josh Reynolds told Channel 9 after the match. When he goes off the field you can definitely feel the difference, he’s just got that punch and that tip on in him and he’s a massive player of the future.”
Canterbury had a sensational start to the game, taking advantage of a penalty deep inside St George Illawarra territory to open the scoring through five-eighth Josh Reynolds. Prop Sam Kasiano had the ball forced from his grasp on a hitup near the line, but it went straight to Michael Ennis who found Reynolds and the latter strolled over for a 6-0 lead after 5 minutes.
The Bulldogs were on the attack again a few minutes later when debutant Brett Lane made a bust down the left edge and Reynolds gained a penalty for Brett Morris never being square. Krisnan Inu went over on the right edge but he failed to ground the ball and the Dragons breathed a sigh of relief.
That relief was short lived however, with another Dragons penalty handing the Dogs field position that they duly converted into a second try to Josh Morris. Kasiano was involved again, passing before the line for Frank Pritchard who shovelled the ball onto Morris who stepped right past his brother to score easily. Inu converted and it was 12-0 after 15 minutes.
Canterbury inflicted further pain with a third straight try - this time Inu got the spoils of a Jason Nightingale error from a Kris Keating cross kick in the 17th minute, following some smart work by Ben Barba on the restart to earn a penalty for the ball going out on the full.
As a result, 20 minutes into the contest the Bulldogs led the Dragons 18-0... in Wollongong.
The Dragons finally got some ball in decent field position at the 25th minute mark but their set lacked spark and a Ben Creagh error let the Bulldogs off too easily. However, the Dragons didn’t let a second golden opportunity slip through their fingers and got back in the game after receiving a penalty. Trent Merrin’s offload found Jake Marketo who stepped around Pritchard and passed to Jamie Soward who sent a cut out pass to Kyle Stanley who scored in the right corner. Soward converted and it was 18-6 with 10 minutes left in the first half.
Dean Young’s 200th game wasn’t a happy one as he had the ball stolen by Reynolds one on one with just seconds to go before halftime and the Canterbury five-eighth raced 40 metres to score untouched. But Inu missed an easy conversion and the Dogs only led 22-6 at the break.
The Bulldogs wasted no time adding to their lead with a simple run around near the posts opening up space for Ben Barba to put a kick in for Morris to get his second unchallenged. Inu slotted the kick and it was 28-6.
St George Illawarra gave themselves some hope after 51 minutes, when Brett Morris, Ben Hornby and Nathan Fien combined to split the Dogs up the middle and then Soward cross kicked on the run for Daniel Vidot who tip-toed down the sideline to score. Soward missed from touch to leave it 28-10.
Some razzle dazzle football from the Dragons minutes later saw them get back within two converted tries when Brett Morris had his first try down the left edge after the play began back at the centre of halfway. Soward made no mistake and it was 28-16 with 24 minutes to go.
A moment of Barba brilliance saw him run almost the length of the field on a kick return but the Dogs failed to capitalise on the field position. Five minutes later the Dragons were in again through Matt Cooper, however Soward’s ill-directed conversion saw the deficit stay at eight points with 13 left on the clock.
The Dragons had more chances in the final stages to draw closer but the Bulldogs held them out to register their 9th win of the season and move into 2nd spot on the competition ladder after 15 Rounds.