The Bulldogs NYC team have kicked off their season with a tough 24-18 loss to the Melbourne Storm at Belmore Sports Ground.
In a spirited display with many positive signs for the season ahead, the Young Pups had their chances and defended staunchly in the final stages of the game, before Storm winger Cory Parker grabbed his second try in the final minute to sink Bulldogs’ hearts.
Despite dominating proceedings early in the first half with some slick offloads and crisp passing, the Young Pups trailed 14-6 at the break with the Storm running in three tries. Centre Jacob Tonge opened the scoring for the Storm, before half back Matt Egan extended the visitors’ lead midway through the half and winger Cory Parker went over in the corner just before the break.
The Bulldogs scored two tries of their own in the first half to stay in touch. The Young Pups hit back in the 16th minute after Bailey Simonsson ran on to a cut out ball and threw a great ball inside to second rower Jack Gibbons, who made a spectacular catch and crashed over in the corner.
Strong runs by local junior Jayden Okunbor and fullback Jayden El-Jalkh earned the Bulldogs a penalty in the 32nd minute and from the ensuing set the Bulldogs scored their second try to bridge the gap. Five-eighth Adam Keighran sent a lovely cut out ball to Jayden Okunbor who put winger Alvin Maungaati over in the corner.
With the breeze at their back in the second half, the Young Pups hit back early with centre Morgan Harper making a great run down the right side to level the scores. The Storm then kicked a penalty goal after a high shot to reclaim the lead before Bulldogs winger Alvin Maungaati streaked down the left side and passed inside for second rower Luis Strickland to score and give the Bulldogs a two-point lead.
In the final stages the Storm levelled with their second penalty goal before their last minute try clinched the tight win.