Bulldogs go into freefall after Brisbane mauling
A month ago, Canterbury and their livewire five-eighth Josh Reynolds could do no wrong.
Now, the Bulldogs are struggling to make the finals and Reynolds' immediate playing future is in doubt over a double dose of madness in the blue-and-whites' fourth consecutive defeat - a game he finished in the sin bin.
First, the NSW pivot was reported for lashing out with his foot at Brisbane's Sam Thaiday while he was on the ground. Then he tripped Bronco Ben Barba.
He was reported for both offences as the Bulldogs put together four consecutive losses for the first time since the start of last season, losing 41-10.
A high tackle on Alex Glenn three minutes from fulltime at Suncorp Stadium prompted the referees to make good on a threat to despatch him to the sin bin, where television cameras captured Reynolds kicking a chair.
The Bulldogs had the honour of providing both halves, Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson, to NSW's victorious State of Origin campaign. But since that glorious triumph, the men from Belmore have coughed and spluttered their way through a winless month.
Brisbane are back in the finals race while the Bulldogs will be fighting to keep their campaign alive against Parramatta on Friday.
Brisbane led 20-6 at the end of a first half which featured a couple of freakish tries.
Reynolds' 13th-minute score was the ultimate broken play touchdown. Josh Jackson sent a wonky pass to Reynolds who kicked into the north-eastern corner.
Tim Lafai tapped the back back to Reynolds who crossed, the Broncos arguing that Jackson had been inside the 10 pursuing the kick. He was - but played no part in the play.
The try was given, Trent Hodkinson converted and the Bulldogs were looking good.
There were a couple of let-offs for the home side as Des Hasler's men tried to add to their total: a penalty for Josh Hoffman being tackled in the air and Ben Hunt stealing the ball expertly from Tony Williams.
Broncos prop Josh McGuire was ruled to have lost the ball over the line in the 21st minute but shortly afterwards, Brisbane opened their account.
A dangerous and sharp Corey Parker offloaded around the corner to Matt Gillett, whose flick to scorer Dale Copley was eye-catching but close to forward. Copley's touchdown was converted by Parker for 6-4.
On-field officials Gerard Sutton and Alan Shortall appeared to have little idea if Brisbane winger Daniel Vidot snuck over in the corner in the 13th minute but opted for a try.
When video referees Bernard Sutton and Luke Phillips agreed, the Bulldogs erupted.
"How can you give that a try?" captain Michael Ennis said. "There's no evidence at all he got that on the ground. Commonsense says it wasn't a try."
Gerard Sutton said it had been called a fair try live and the video officials had not had sufficient evident to overturn their ruling.
Smart stepping from close to the line gave halfback Hunt a good individual try in the 34th minute, which he converted himself.
And five-eighth Barba dazzled when he picked up a Jack Reed offload and tiptoed his way over the tryline in the south-eastern corner in the shadows of halftime.
After a positive start, the Bulldogs were facing a fourth consecutive defeat. That outcome was held at bay momentarily when Jackson fought his way over in the 47th minute.
But five minutes after Reynolds was booked for the first time, Brisbane replacement forward Corey Oates crashed over off Gillett's pass.
Then hooker Andrew McCullough added a field goal before second rower Thaiday earned himself a place on the scoresheet, too. Hunt poached his second just before fulltime after lead-up from McGuire and McCullough.
The Bulldogs were battered and bruised, their bench reduced to two fit players and their season teetering on the brink.
Brisbane Broncos 41 (B Hunt 2 B Barba D Copley C Oates S Thaiday D Vidot tries C Parker 4 B Hunt 2 goals A McCullough field goal) Canterbury Bulldogs 10 (J Jackson J Reynolds tries T Hodkinson goal) at Suncorp Stadium. Referee: Gerard Sutton, Alan Shortall
Sydney Morning Herald