The Canterbury Bulldogs’ Jersey Flegg Cup side gained a scrappy two points over the St George Dragons after holding off late pressure to win 22-20 at ANZ Stadium.
With several inclusions and positional changes within both squads, the game promised tension and entertainment on Monday afternoon.
The game began rather messy, seeing three errors in the first five minutes, with both teams looking to gain early momentum over the other.
The scoring opened through halfback Blair Grant, as Cody Ramsey sprinted down the sideline, before offloading to his halfback to finish the try off for the Dragons.
Grant failed to convert his own try, leaving the Dragons four in front after six minutes of play.
The Dogs wouldn’t let the early points affect them, as they built pressure on the away side, before fullback Declan Casey broke the St George line to cross over in the corner.
Jake Averillo, who was filling in the halfback role, gave the home side a 6-4 lead with a conversion from the touchline.
Errors were prominent from both teams in the first half, with an error from Bulldogs winger Kurt Picken over the line proving the most costly. Gifting the Dragons a seven-tackle set, winger Sam McCann put the away side in the lead, catching a perfectly placed bomb, to score his side’s second try.
Blair Grant converted this time, extending the Dragons’ lead to four.
The Dogs were quick to respond right on the buzzer, through Jake Averillo who brilliantly put Matt Doorey through a hole in the opposition’s defence and received it back to score an 80m try between the posts.
Averillo easily converted his own try to take the Dogs two in front into half time.
With significantly less errors to begin the second half, the game looked to flow smoothly.
It was the home side however, who took advantage of the free-flowing game with a great team try, allowing Isaiah Tass to cross in the corner, increasing the Dogs’ lead to 16-10.
Jake Averillo failed to convert for the first time in the game, keeping the margin at six points.
The Dragons almost instantly responded though, after their kick-off found grass in the field before bouncing out to the sideline.
Sam McCann grabbed his double in almost identical fashion to his first, with yet another great catch from a bomb to score near the sideline.
Blair Grant successfully converted to level the game for St George at sixteen-a-piece.
Yet again, Bulldogs showed their resiliency through a second try for Isaiah Tass, who again crossed over in the corner to reclaim the lead for his side.
Jake Averillo extended the Dogs’ lead to a converted try after successfully converting his side’s fourth try of the game.
With the second half scoring looking similar to the first half, St George again decreased the Bulldogs’ lead to four, with a strong try from Shaun Sauni-Esau near the sideline.
Grant failed to convert for the second time in the game, leaving his side two behind with just under 10 minutes to go.
Late pressure from the Dragons couldn't prove the difference in a rather scrappy game, with the Bulldogs earning a 22-20 win over the St George Illawarra Dragons.