The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have bounced back into the winners' circle with a 28-10 victory over Mounties in Round 10 of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW.
The Belmore Sportsground match saw a flurry of points for the home side, which registered six tries in the win, including a double to winger Josh Bergamin. Five-eighth Josh Cleeland and fullback Mason Cerruto were also instrumental in the Bulldogs' eighth win of season 2018, although they will have to deal with the sudden departure of regular NRL player Marcelo Montoya.
Match: Bulldogs v Mounties
Round 17 -
Venue: Belmore Sports Ground
From the opening whistle all the pressure came from the home side - although the Bulldogs' first opportunity was squandered via a dropped ball. Fullback Mason Cerruto, however, soon ensured his side was first on the board.
The former Panther kickstarted a good attacking raid for the Bulldogs, before Josh Cleeland set him up for a try moments later. When the five-eighth put a grubber through the defensive line, Cerruto was waiting - and when Morgan Harper easily converted, the Bulldogs had the six-point advantage.
Five minutes later, Cleeland was again key to the Bulldogs' attack as they continued their strong start. Taking the ball from Matt Frawley, Cleeland charged from close range to score himself, with the try unconverted.
An arm wrestle ensued, with relegated winger Marcelo Montoya leaving the field with a serious hamstring injury before a dropped ball from Cerruto brought unstuck another attacking play. The fullback would then be asked to defend, combining with Asipeli Fine in a fantastic try-saving tackle on Mikaele Ravalawa.
Once again, Cerruto was heavily involved in the lead-up to his side's third try. Awarded a penalty for being tackled without the ball, Canterbury-Bankstown wasted no time scoring off the quick tap, with a big right-to-left shift finding Josh Bergamin in the south-eastern corner.
Harper was again unsuccessful with the boot from out wide, leaving the Bulldogs with a 14-0 lead until half-time.
The Bulldogs were on the front foot, and kept their momentum going early in the second half; while Cleeland had been a standout in the opening period, it was his halves partner Matt Frawley to find himself in space soon after the resumption. The halfback slipped straight through to give his side an 18-point lead.
It wouldn't be long, however, until Mounties hit back via returning winger Taane Milne. The former Tiger and Dragon was the beneficiary of a right-side overlap for the visitors, crossing in his first appearance for Mounties.
Only minutes later, the Bulldogs had the chance to continue their run via Fine, but the second-rower lost the ball over the line. It would then take a remarkable string of passes to earn the home side another four-pointer, undoubtedly the try of the game. The ball shifted from left to right, before makeshift winger Jayden Okunbor turned it back to cover the width of the field in the opposite direction, with a strong Renouf To'Omaga run giving the Bulldogs an overlap, for Bergamin to exploit for the try.
A second knock-on over the line for Bulldogs - this time from Cleeland - kept the score at 24-4, but only momentarily. A Bargeover try from Royce Hunt up the other end of the field drew Mounties closer, converted for a 24-10 scoreline.
The result was all but confirmed with 10 minutes remaining, but Okunbor continued the Bulldogs' charge with a try on the right flank. A handy flick pass from Harper sent the usual second-rower over in the corner, once again unconverted.
A pair of melees would put a sour note on the dying minutes at Belmore, with the Bulldogs running out 28-10 winners.