The Canterbury Bulldogs have responded to the week of turmoil with a resounding 30-18 victory over St George Illawarra Dragons in tonight's pre-season trial.
It was also a victory for the Gold Coast NRL bid with a crowd of 18,000 rugby league fans showing their support at the Gold Coast Stadium, Carrara.
Canterbury opened the scoring with a dashing try to winger Hazem El Masri who scored courtesy of an overlap; El Masri converting his own try from the side line.
St George responded with Trent Barrett and Brett Firman combining to see Nathan Blacklock snatch a cross-field bomb to score out wide. Dean Young scored down the same flank soon after and Saints hit the front 8-6.
But the Dragons were unable shut down half back Brent Sherwin [pictured] - the Bulldogs coming back and beating Saints up the middle of the ruck. Canterbury adding another coverted try and holding a handy 12-8 lead at half time.
The Bulldogs extended their lead in the second half to put the match beyond doubt. The Dragons however, scored a spectacular try late in the match following a break from Mark Gasnier who delivered a superb offload to eventual try scorer David Howell.
Scoring five tries to four, the Bulldogs were deserving winners; Dragons' goal kicker Mark Riddell having an ordinary night with the boot.
DRAGONS 18 (Tries: Nathan Blacklock, Dean Young, Trent Barrett, David Howell. Goals: Mark Riddell) defeated by BULLDOGS 30 (Tries: Hazem El Masri 2, Jamaal Lolesi 2, Brent Sherwin. Goals: El Masri 5)
CROWD: 18,356 Gold Coast Stadium
TEAMS: St George Illawarra Dragons 1. Ben Hornby 2. Nathan Blacklock 3. Mark Gasnier 4. Matt Cooper 5. Reece Simmonds 6. Trent Barrett (c) 7. Brett Firman 8. Luke Bailey 9. Mark Riddell 10. Nathan Long 11. Dean Young 12. Henry Perenara 13. Shaun Timmins Res: 14. Ashton Sims 16. Brent Kite 17. Ryan Powell 18. Tony Jensen 22. Lincoln Withers 23. David Howell
Canterbury Bulldogs 1. Luke Patten 2. Hazem El Masri 3. Sonny Bill Williams 4. Reni Matua 5. Jamaal Lolesi 6. Braith Anasta 7. Brett Oliver 8. Dennis Scott 9. Adam Perry 10. Hutch Maiava 11. Roy Asotasi 12. Jamie Feeney 13. Tony Grimaldi Res: 14. Steve Price 15. Andrew Ryan 16. Dayne Neirinckx 17. Willie Tonga 18. Glen Hughes 19. Corey Hughes 20. Brent Sherwin