Bulldogs v Broncos: Five Key Points
Josh Reynolds at the heart of a Bulldog bounce-back, the weird and wonderful of short drop-outs, committed Broncos come up short again and the lengths big blokes will go to score a four-pointer.
Josh Reynolds' energy Bulldogs' shining light
Yes it can sometimes be misguided but the infectious energy of Josh Reynolds provided the spark for almost everything good that the Bulldogs did on Thursday night. His impetuousness may have actually cost his team six points when he was ruled to be marginally ahead of a Brenko Lee kick that found the in-goal in the first half and then it was Lee who got ahead of himself when Reynolds snared a rebound off a Matt Frawley kick and dived over. With Josh Jackson and Lee on his right edge the Bulldogs looked most dangerous when they went Reynolds' way but no matter how hard he tried he couldn't quite deliver the finish until he burst through a Korbin Sims attempted tackle midway through the second half.
That in itself sparked the Bulldogs to life and they scored again four minutes later to take the lead for the first time in the game.
He was the one pressuring the Broncos defence when a Matt Frawley kick found the turf beside the posts and if he hadn't got an accidental right hand to the footy as he chased through he would have had a second.
He tried again two minutes from full-time only to be held up by Adam Blair as he tried to wrestle and squirm his way free of his grasp.
You wonder where the 'Dogs would find any points if Reynolds wasn't on the park.
Bulldogs forwards bite back
Humiliated by the Sea Eagles only five days earlier, the 'Dogs had to find a way to respond and it should have come as little surprise that the two men who revelled most in the atrocious conditions were David Klemmer and James Graham.
Klemmer was colossal in the middle of the field and put his hand up for 23 tough carries that yielded an extraordinary 295 metres while Graham (180m, 56 tackles) was typically inspirational, whether grafting hard-earned metres up the guts or pulling down Broncos winger Corey Oates in a cover-defending tackle that took him into touch 10 minutes from full-time with his team leading by three.
Sam Kasiano produced his best numbers of the season (139m), Aiden Tolman got through a mountain of work at both ends and Josh Jackson looked dangerous on the right edge.
It took more than 50 minutes for the points to come but the big fellas laid the foundation from the outset.
Weird and wonderful of short drop-outs
Whether he is a fan of what the Ipswich Jets have popularised in recent years we'll perhaps never know but Des Hasler's tactic of implementing short drop-outs this season again paid dividends but in bizarre circumstances.
The first drop-out from Brad Abbey looked destined to come up short of the 10-metre line before it took a right-hand turn and James Roberts allowed it to travel over the sideline, earning Canterbury the scrum feed.
The Bulldogs struck paydirt again the second time but in even stranger fashion. Again, the kick from Abbey was awful but rather than allowing the ball to come to a stop and earn his side a penalty, Broncos winger Jordan Kahu picked it up and dived over the try-line, which under the rules he is not allowed to do.
The Bulldogs got the penalty, went into Broncos territory and from the next set scored their first try of the game.
And the short drop-out has a new lease on life.
Broncos big on effort yet come up short again
It's a testament to the resilience of the Brisbane defence in 2017 that they could give up 58 per cent of possession in slippery conditions for the first 40 minutes on Thursday night and not only not concede any points but rarely look troubled.
The defensive resolve that carried them to within a minute of a premiership in 2015 was best embodied by a clash with the Storm in Melbourne where they repelled the Storm's attack in spite of being forced into 11 line drop-outs.
In the first half against Canterbury the Broncos were forced into three line drop-outs in succession but easily handled what the Bulldogs threw at them, making 23 more tackles than their opposition in the first half.
It was only a four-minute lapse midway through the second half that let them down and ultimately cost them the two points, their third loss this season by three points or less.
The effort is undeniable and the defence looks for the most part impenetrable and hopefully sooner rather than later for Broncos fans their commitment will be rewarded with competition points.
Big blokes love scoring tries
It's highly questionable that Anthony Milford's kick in the ninth minute in behind the Bulldogs defence was intended for Sam Thaiday but when the big back-rower saw daylight, the Steeden and the try-line in his field of vision there was no way anyone was going to stop him. To be fair to Milford, he did race up on the inside of Thaiday as they neared the ball but a push with his right arm left Milford in no doubt as to who would win the race to that one. It continued a rich try-scoring run for Thaiday against the Bulldogs, his seventh the most he has scored against any one club.