The Bulldogs have managed to put 50 on their opponents for the second week in a row and have booked one of the top two spots (dependent on the result of the Roosters game) with a 54-10 hammering of the New Zealand Warriors at Ericsson Stadium this afternoon. Until at least 4:45pm the Dogs hold top spot and they did it with class.
Questions about how the Dogs would muscle up began to be asked when Folkes rested Brent Sherwin (hip) and brought Thurston on, but 10 minutes in, questions weren't being asked. The 'Dogs ended up scoring ten tries, four of them to man of the match Matt Utai, and were never headed once they established a 16-0 lead midway through the first half. Numerous tries followed for the premiership favourites, including the softest kick return from Utai, seeing him run almost untouched from his own 30 metre line to score under the black dot.
Leading 28-6 at the break, there was never any question as to who was dominating and three quick tries assured that for the away side as they skipped away to 46-6. Grimaldi ran over with 20 left and the Bulldogs then easily crossed the half-century. The 'Dogs then closed out the game, giving Utai his fourth.
Standouts included Utai, Grimaldi, Price and Sonny Bill Williams for the Dogs, whilst Tony Martin and Guttenbeil were the glow in an otherwise dull Warriors side. While the Bulldogs look ahead to a clash with either North Queensland or Canberra out of Telstra next weekend, the Warriors are aiming up for 2005.
Ericsson Stadium Referee: Jason Robinson
WARRIORS 10 Tries: Martin 2 Goals: Jones 1/1, Faumuina 0/1 BULLDOGS 54 Tries: M Utai 4, M O'Meley, S-B Williams, H El Masri, L Patten, W Tonga, T Grimaldi Goals: H El Masri 7/9, Thurston 0/1
By the clock:
0 min: Kick-off! Dogs with first set.
3 min: NEWS - The Dogs with a couple of early chances, most notably Willie Tonga spilling the ball 10m out and giving the Warriors a stab at it. The Warriors went on the attack only to hand it over to the Dogs and once again give them field position.
7 min: TRY - Bulldogs. Mark O'Meley again opens the Bulldogs account with an excellent effort. El Masri has no trouble converting and Canterbury start what looks like a long afternoon for the NZ fans. Bulldogs 6-0.
13 min: TRY - Bulldogs. A brilliant cross-field play sees Ryan running at the line and finally popping it out the back for Utai who does his trademark 3-man fend off to score out wide. El Masri fails to convert. Bulldogs 10-0.
18 min: NEWS - so far the Dogs being patient and getting a lot of ball due to silly impatient Warriors play. Dogs now lead possession 70-30. Score remains Bulldogs 10-0 at this stage.
20 min: TRY - Bulldogs. Threats of this being a danger game beginning to fade away as Utai scores a double. El Masri converts and the gap 1/4 into the game widens to 16 points. Bulldogs 16-0.
24 min: NEWS - The Warriors on the attack and the skill level went on show as a couple of simple errors once again turned possession over. The Dogs now surge upfield as Utai is having a gun game for the Dogs.
26 min: TRY - Warriors. The NZ side finally turning on the razzle dazzle as the ball goes through numerous sets of hands. Martin ends up with the 4-pointer to his name out wide. Jones' conversion is spot-on. The gap is closed to ten. Bulldogs 16-6.
27 min: NEWS - Bulldogs restart kick out on the full, things starting to turn around for New Zealand. The Warriors really starting to look the goods as Sonny comes on for the Dogs.
31 min: TRY - Bulldogs. Game set match might as well be called now as disgraceful Warriors defence from the kick return allows Utai to gain a treble. Shameful display by the defensive line of NZ. El Masri converts and Canterbury open that 16-pt buffer up again. Bulldogs 22-6.
34 min: TRY - Bulldogs. Another easy one for the Dogs from the kickoff, just as things were looking up for New Zealand. Sonny Bill gets the try out wide, El Masri converts and it's all of a sudden the Bulldogs 28-6.
HALFTIME - BULLDOGS 28 New Zealand Warriors 6. As has been the case all year, the Dogs have mowed down their also-ran opponents in the first half. The Warriors have shown brief glimpses of hope and brilliance, in particular the Tony Martin try, but the Dogs have gone that step further and are proving why they are favourites to take out the silverware on Grand Final day. Matt Utai has been a stand-out for Canterbury, whilst we've seen a great turnout from the entire forward pack. Completions are a worry for the Bulldogs at the moment but possession is firmly in their favour coming into the second half. Get ready for another bumper half of footy! Bulldogs 28, Warriors 6.
41 min: Second half kick-off is spilt by the Warriors, Canterbury on the attack immediately. Story of the afternoon for NZ, Canterbury looking to surge further ahead. First set is collected in goal on the full by NZ so a reprieve is earnt.
46 min: TRY - Bulldogs. El Masri displays a touch of Sherwin and puts his own 6 points on the board (conversion successful). Bulldogs 34-6.
48 min: TRY - Bulldogs. Patten scores after another great break for Canterbury. If they score at this rate until fulltime, they might challenge Sydney for the minor premiership on for and against! El Masri converts as per usual - Bulldogs 40-6.
54 min: TRY - Bulldogs. Tonga scores off a brilliant Utai inside ball and El Masri kicks a sterling conversion. The Canterbury side showing no mercy now as they lead 46-6 with still 25 minutes to play. Bulldogs 46-6
60 min: TRY - Bulldogs. The Bulldogs still with 20 minutes take the half-century through Grimaldi. Score, now with El Masri's second miss of the afternoon, up to Bulldogs 50-6.
70 min: NEWS - The Bulldogs are really playing excellent footy and couldn't have asked for a better lead in to the finals. The Warriors might as well hit the town tonight and make it Mad Sunday night. Possession has been a big factor working against the Warriors but their silly errors and some simple effective footy by the Dogs have seen them come undone against the premiership favourites. 10 to go, Bulldogs 50-6.
73 min: TRY - Warriors. Martin jumps on a double again out wide as the Warriors score a consolation try, rain tumbling down now. Faumuina misses the conversion. Bulldogs 50-10.
77 min: TRY - Bulldogs. Utai gets a quad as the Dogs continue on their merry way to Telstra Stadium next weekend. Thurston takes the kick but misses. and the score remains Bulldogs 54-10.
FULLTIME And the Dogs take the cake, eat it, and then buy some more and eat that too. The Warriors weren't in after the 10 minute mark passed by as the Bulldogs just showed their class all over the park. Standouts for Canterbury included Matthew Utai and Tony Grimaldi. It's going to be a long summer over in Auckland.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - Matt Utai (Bulldogs) 2 - Steve Price (Bulldogs) 1 - Tony Grimaldi (Bulldogs) -----------------------------------------