In a match that saw some incredibly skilful tries from all points of the park, the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have an entertaining 42-28 affair against the North Sydney Bears.
Match: Bulldogs v Bears
Round 23 -
Venue: ANZ Stadium
Both teams played high quality footy with the half-time score being 16-all in what was a see-sawing match, but it would be a period at the start of the second half where the Bulldogs scored 20 unanswered points that would prove to be the difference.
The game began in curious circumstances, with Rhyse Martin coming off in the opening minute to qualify for the Intrust Super Premiership NSW finals series, and leaving the Bulldogs with 16 men for the entire game.
Bears’ halves pairing Dean Hawkins and Connor Tracey linked up to put on the opening try as they have done so often this season, with the latter giving the final pass to a charging Dean Britt who ran a superb line and crashed over. ‘
The halves theme continued for the second try of the afternoon. After the Bulldogs enjoyed a fair amount of possession and field position with no result, it would be Josh Cleeland to step up, or more specifically, step through the Bears defence to score yet another individual try.
Hawkins pulled off the tackle of the game in the 20 minute mark when he pulled down Mason Cerruto who looked certain to score after some good work by Bronson Garlick, but it would matter little as the Bulldogs scored the very next play when Fa’amanu Brown took advantage of a giant overlap by throwing a perfect cut-out ball to John Olive, who went over untouched.
Brown caused a turnover with a picture-perfect tackle that gave the Bulldogs another opportunity, and they took advantage with a brilliant try. A shift towards the right after some second phase play saw Josh Bergamin get on the outside of his opposite number and flick the ball to Tom Carr, who had to beat two players and get past another to skilfully plant the ball down in the corner.
From one end of the field to another, some more glorious Rugby League was on show at ANZ Stadium. The Bears – as the Bulldogs just did - shifted right, and despite the rushing defence applying pressure, Jesse Arthurs was able to quickly unload the ball to Jake Tago, who after a minor juggle stepped his opposite man and passed to an unmarked Sean Sabutey who scored in the corner.
The brilliant Rugby League continued thanks to a remarkable piece of play from Britt, who received a pass on the short side from Matt McIlwrick and twisted his body to throw an incredible pass while he was just millimetres off the ground for Curtis Johnston to score.
From one great pass before half time to another brilliant one after; Zac Woolford jumped out of dummy half and threw an amazing cut-out pass across the face of two teammates and into the bread basket of John Olive that created an overlap for him to score his second try.
A penalty goal nudged the Bulldogs’ lead to eight, before the Bulldogs scored an incredible try from inside their own half when Woolford and Cerruto linked up to find space in the middle, before the ball was passed to Brown who put in a grubber on the run for Jayden Okunbor to pounce on and score.
He had a double shortly afterwards when Kyle Turner threw an intercept to Olive who then dumped the ball to Okunbor who put the jets on and ran 90 metres to increase their lead to 36-16.
The Bears were up against it trailing by 20 with 12 minutes remaining, but they gave themselves a good chance when Billy Brittain floated an outstanding pass to Jesse Arthurs who ran in untouched.
The game was on when Turner made a bust down the middle of the field that led to Max Bailey scoring, but the Bulldogs sealed the match when Cerruto mirrored Turner's effort by making a line-break down the middle, but he went the whole way himself.