Left-flank assault pays dividends for Bulldogs

CHRIS BOULOUS
Last updated 23:55 21/08/2014
Tony Williams
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WRECKING BALL: Tony Williams is in a confident mood ahead of Saturday's must-win clash against the Panthers in Sydney.

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The Bulldogs have completed the first leg of their Thursday night quinella with a 30-10 win against the Wests Tigers.

A calculated assault on the Tigers makeshift left-side defence was the catalyst for the Bulldogs second win at ANZ Stadium in seven days and moves them on the cusp of finals football.

It still remains to be seen if the Bulldogs finals chances are as bright as the Sydney weather which broke briefly in the afternoon or slippery like the 175mm of rain that has fallen since Saturday.

Either way there will get a much clearer picture next Thursday when they go from playing the worst defence in the NRL to the best when they host the South Sydney Rabbitohs next Thursday.

Nevertheless they did what they had to do last night: and that was to get the two points and in the process they moved their points differential into the positive.

Ironically it took Sydney's big wet to bring out the Bulldogs attacking best.

Des Hasler's plan to target the out of position centre and wing pairing of Blake Austin and Corey Paterson proved a masterstroke as it yielded four first half tries.

Trent Hodkinson served it on a platter for Josh Jackson to open the scoring in what loomed as a preview of the tramline the Bulldogs occupied in the opening stanza.

It proved successful not long after as Sam Perrett delivered the money ball for Corey Thompson to scamper in the corner to open a 12-0 lead inside the opening 20 minutes.

They continued to race the clock as Tim Lafai pushed off three defenders to make it three tries - all down the right side - in 11 minutes.

Lafai's double on the half hour mark effectively killed off the game and allowed

Hodkinson to slot his fourth sideline conversion to go with his two try assists and a line break in his best half of footy since Origin two.

The second half was a hard slog in the wet with both teams lacking the polish that sees them sit third and fourth last on the try scoring tally.

Jackson, who switched to left centre to cover for the injured Sam Perrett in the second half, bombed a certain try when he bounced a ball that came off fill-in fullback Josh Morris' chest.

It started better for the Tigers when halfback Luke Brooks trapped a kick and sprinted 95 metres to score.

However the celebrations didn't last long as he immediately left the field with a hamstring injury - a perfect illustration of how their season has gone so far.

Captain Michael Ennis' gave the hearty crowd of 9877 something to cheer for with an individual chip and chase try broke the 30-point barrier for the Bulldogs for only the fourth time this season as they took a chance to rest several stars with the game safely in their keeping.

 The end of the season can't come quick enough for the injury ravaged Wests Tigers who were forced to make some 120 tackles more than the home team.

Last night's 20 point loss means the joint venture has now conceded 198 points since their last win in round 19 -against the Bulldogs. A late Aaron Woods try narrowly avoided a fourth straight single figure score.

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For the Tigers, Woods and Robbie Farah tried hard to lift their team but looked tired from a long Origin campaign.

The only concern for the Bulldogs was a rib injury to Perrett who didn't return in the second half.

Canterbury Bulldogs 30 (T Lafai 2 M Ennis J Jackson C Thompson tries T Hodkinson 5 goals) Wests Tigers 10 (L Brooks A Woods tries C Paterson goal) at ANZ Stadium. Referee: Matt Cecchin, Adam Gee. Crowd: 9,877

- Sydney Morning Herald

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