A Roosters side minus 7 of their top players played out of their skins but went down to the more experienced Bulldogs pack by 28 - 18 at Aussie Stadium.
Both teams started the game very well, both on attack and defence. In the 13th minute, Travis Norton (Bulldogs) was sinbinned for offside play which could've had the Roosters on the scoreboard.
This allowed the Roosters to get to an 8 point lead midway through the first half. The Bulldogs kicked into 2nd gear and put on 16 unanswered points to go to the break with the lead at 16-8.
The Roosters started the second half well with a two good tries to put them ahead by 2 points.
But once again, as in the first half, the experience in the Bulldogs shone through and they finished the half well, winning by a 10 point margin.
Braith Anasta for the Bulldogs some have said was unlucky not to be playing Origin football next week and he sure put his stamp on the game tonight with some wonderful kickng to set up the Bulldogs attack. Other stand out players were Jamie Feeney off the bench for the Bulldogs, Todd Byrne playing at fullback for the Roosters, and also Michael Crocker playing at hooker for the Roosters.
Scorers: ROOSTERS 18 Tries: Fittler, Finch, Grothe Goals: Crocker (3/4) defeated by BULLDOGS 28 Tries: Sherwin, Feeney, Vagana, Anasta, Mason Goals: El Masri (4/6)
Friday 6 June 2003 7:30 PM Aussie Stadium Referee: Paul Simpkins
Leagueunlimited players of the match:
3 - B Anasta (Bulldogs) 2 - J Feeney (Bulldogs) 1 - T Byrne (Roosters)
By the clock:
7 Origin players out for the Roosters, 1 for the Bulldogs. What effect will this have? 80 mins and we'll know.
5th min: News - Steady start by both sides in front of the vocal Aussie Stadium crowd. Clear skies and a cool temperature of 12 degrees for the players
10th min: NEWS - Still no score in the game. The Roosters defence has held well with the Bulldogs having more attacking options. General kicking has been good by both sides
13th min: NEWS - Norton (Bulldogs) sinbinned for being offside right by the tryline and tackling Fittler. The whistle blows before Fittler was over the line for the Roosters and he protests, claiming at least a penalty try.
14th min: PENALTY GOAL - Crocker for Roosters following the offside offence by Norton. Roosters 2-0
19th min: TRY - Fittler for Roosters. A break by Utai (Bulldogs) set up Hughes to kick on the Bulldogs 30 metre line. Fittler charges down the kick and runs the 70 metres to score. Crocker has no trouble getting the conversion. Roosters 8-0
27th min: TRY - Sherwin for Bulldogs. Back to back penalties to the Bulldogs for silly infringements by the Roosters defenders, a great offload and suddenly the Bulldogs are on the scoreboard. El Masri from right out in front, gets the conversion. Roosters 8-6
29th min: TRY - Feeney for Bulldogs. A break by the Bulldogs from the kick off and suddenly the Bulldogs are 20 metres out, with 4 tackles left. Quick plays, spreading it wide, and Feeney in over in the corner. El Masri from 3 metres in from touch, gets the conversion. Bulldogs 12-8
35th min: TRY - Vagana for Bulldogs. Hot on attack, following a mistake by the Roosters, the Bulldogs get a high kick in goal. Vagana is there to get the ball when the catch is missed by both sides. El Masri misses the conversion from 21 metres out. Bulldogs 16-8
HALF TIME: A solid start by the young Roosters pack has been grinded down by the more experienced Bulldogs.
Half time stats show how the game has unfolded. Completion rate for the Bulldogs 20/21, Roosters 14/18. Handling errors - Bulldogs 3, Roosters 8. Missed tackles - Bulldogs 11, Roosters 17. Offloads - Bulldogs 9, Roosters 3. Line breaks - Bulldogs 4, Roosters 1. Penalties - Bulldogs 5, Roosters 3. Tackles - Bulldogs 141, Roosters 147. Top tacklers - Bulldogs Hughes 20, Ryan 17, Roosters Webb 23, Crocker 19
45th min: NEWS - Roosters come close to scoring soon after half time following a Bulldogs mistake, but the Bulldogs defence held strong
46th min: TRY - Finch for Roosters. Another mistake by the Bulldogs hands possession back to the Roosters on the 40 metre line. Good go forward, resulting in a Fittler chip for Finch to dive on. Crocker from 10 metres out gets the conversion. Bulldogs 16-14
54th min: TRY - Grothe for Roosters. The play is very quick by both sides. The Roosters make a lot of ground in their set. An great inside pass by Fittler gets them close to their line on the 5th. A basketball pass plus a tap pass and Grothe is over out wide. Crocker misses the kick. Roosters 18-16
56th min: NEWS - Morley (Roosters) on the sideline with a leg injury
60th min: NEWS - The Roosters hold on dearly to their narrow lead. Byrne, their fullback, playing very well at the back of the pack
65th min: TRY - Anasta for Bulldogs. An intercepted ball from a Fittler pass well read by Anasta, who could not be caught and ran a good 50 metres to score. El Masri from 20 metres out, gets the conversion. Bulldogs 22-18
69th min: PENALTY GOAL - El Masri for Bulldogs. Byrne (Roosters) penalised for being offside when the Bulldogs were hot on attack. 15 metres in from touch, and it's no trouble. Bulldogs 24-18
71st min: NEWS - Roosters very close to scoring through Grothe. Very tight finish coming
74th min: NEWS - Anasta (Bulldogs) goes for the field goal from 35 metres out, but is wide. Score remains Bulldogs 24-18
77th min: NEWS - Sherwin (Bulldogs) off the field with a bulging left eye following a swinging up in a tackle not picked up by the officials
79th min: TRY - Mason for Bulldogs. A grubber by Finch (Roosters) goes straight to Mason who, for a big man, sprints 40 metres to the line and seal the game for the Bulldogs. El Masri misses the kick. Bulldogs 28-18
FULL TIME - A gallant effort by the understrength Roosters side, but not enough to keep the Bulldogs from winning.