The Canterbury Bulldogs, unfazed by an early shower and their opponents' title favouritism, have defeated the Melbourne Storm tonight at Bluetongue Stadium by a scoreline of 26 points to 10.
Whilst the scoreline may not suggest it, the Bulldogs turned out an impressive display to comprehensively defeat the Storm, then benchmark of the past three seasons, all over the park.
Even more impressive is they did it without their star halfback Brett Kimmorley, who was forced from the field early with a cork to his thigh.
Funnily enough, it wasn't until Kimmorley left the field that the Bulldogs were able to score their first points, which came from their captain Andrew Ryan. Running the ball close to the Storms tryline, Greg Eastwood was able to keep the ball alive to Michael Ennis, who then passed on to Ben Hannant who, in turn, held the ball up for Ryan who ran a beautiful line beck towards the ruck and over for first points.
The Bulldogs had a couple more scoring opportunities, only to be let down by poor handling. A rare mistake from Billy Slater in which he lost a high ball foward into a teammate provided Hazem El Masri with a chance to increase the score by two, which he made no mistake in doing.
It hadn't been a happy night for the Storm, and it was about to get a whole lot worse when their halfback Cooper Cronk was penalised and sent to the sin bin in the 32nd following a tackle off the ball on Bryson Goodwin. Following the tap, the ball was immediately sent out to Goodwin on the wing to take advantage of the overlap and dive over in the corner for the try that would give the Bulldogs their 14 point half time lead.
Following a half time spray from coach Craig Bellamy that will leave the dressing sheds needing a fresh coat of paint, the Storm came out firing in the second half, and finally found themselves on the scoreboard through a simple try to centre Will Chambers.
Enjoying a much larger share of possession than they'd had in the first half, the Storm constantly threatened to break free and score more points, however ill-discipline would prove to be their undoing, with a penalty against Cronk in the 58th providing the Bulldogs with the field position they'd need to launch an attacking raid that resulted in Darryl Millard scoring the try to break the Storm's back.
A lucky bounce for Gary Warburton in the 68th proved the icing on the cake, as the Bulldogs reclaimed their position on the top of the table, and resigned the Storm to their fourth loss of the season
Canterbury Bulldogs 26 def Melbourne Storm 10
Round 11 - Saturday May 23rd, 2009 07:30pm Venue: Bluetongue Stadium Referee: Shayne Hayne & Gerard Sutton
Sideline Officials: Steve Chiddy & Gavin Morris
Video Referee: Bill Harrigan Crowd: 10923 Halftime: Bulldogs 14-0
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Ben Hannant (Bulldogs) 2 Points: Daniel Holdsworth (Bulldogs) 1 Point: Luke Patten (Bulldogs)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Good evening and welcome to Bluetongue Stadium for tonights clash between the high flying Canterbury Bulldogs, and the resurgent Melbourne Storm.
The Bulldogs have been the form team of the competition, and would have been sitting alone at the top of the table were it not for a controversial (and proven wrong) no try ruling by video ref Steve Clark last round. The Storm, on the other hand, enjoyed a return to the winners circle with a comprehensive demolition of the Raiders last start.
Team changes are as such: Bulldogs: Ben Roberts is out, Daniel Holdsworth comes in at 5/8. Greg Eastwood will start from the bench, with Gary Warburton promoted to the run on side. Storm: Adam Blair is out with a hairline fracture to the hand. Brett White will start the game, with Scott Anderson the new man on the bench. Joseph Tomane is also out, and Anthony Quinn returning in jersey 20.
Talk about the game as it happens - Bulldogs v Storm forum discussion - click here!
BULLDOGS: 1. Luke Patten 2. Hazem El Masri 3. Daryl Millard 4. Jamal Idris 5. Bryson Goodwin 19. Daniel Holdsworth 7. Brett Kimmorley 8. Ben Hannant 9. Mick Ennis 10. Michael Hodgson 14. Gary Warburton 12. Andrew Ryan 13. David Stagg Interchange: 11. Greg Eastwood 15. Chris Armit 16. Yileen Gordon 17. John Kite STORM: 1. Billy Slater 2. Steve Turner 3. Will Chambers 4. Greg Inglis 20. Anthony Quinn 6. Brett Finch 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jeff Lima 9. Cameron Smith (c) 17. Brett White 11. Matt Cross 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Dallas Johnson Interchange: 14. Ryan Hinchcliffe 15. Sika Manu 16. Aiden Tolman 21. Scott Anderson
Stay tuned, kickoff just moments away!
0 min: And we're underway!
3 min: Just three minutes in and we already have our first all-in brawl. A lot of feeling in this match.
3 min: No surprise to see Michael Ennis at the very thick of things, and as a result is penalised for being the instigator. Melbourne on their own 40.
4 min: Another penalty for the visitors, this time for holding down in the ruck. Melbourne with the first try scoring opportunity.
4 min: Finch throws a long cut-out ball that goes straight to the touch judge. Early reprieve for the Bulldogs.
8 min: Kimmorley kicks the ball purposely into touch, a tactic no doubt to nullify Billy Slaters impact in the game.
10 min: Great attacking football by the Bulldogs sees Goodwin make a long break down the left, only to throw the ball back to the Storm as he was going into touch.
11 min: Now a long break by Inglis, but he loses the ball in a great tackle by Idris.
12 min: Not a good sign for the Doggies, with Kimmorley limping off the field and straight up the tunnell
16 min: Idris gobbles up a grubber on his own line, and embarks on a 40 metre run downfield, during which he tramples all over Slater.
17 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs A beautiful line run by Ryan here, who takes the ball from Hannant and comes back in towards the ruck with a full head of steam, carrying three defenders over the line with him. Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 6-0
20 min: The Dogs don't seem to be missing Kimmorley at all, going the length of the field and coming within an inch of scoring, with Ennis losing the ball over the line after a big hit from Hoffman.
22 min: The Bulldogs are all over the Storm tonight, only coming undone by being impatient. Patten just made a huge break off a kick return, finding Holdsworth in support who, in turn, tried to keep the motion alive with a miracle ball that went straight to Steve Turner.
25 min: Big break up the middle from Cam Smith that should've resulted in a try, however Smith decided to go himself instead of passing to his support player.
29 min: A rare mistake under the high ball by Slater is further compounded by a penalty as he knocked it on into a teammate.
30 min: PENALTY GOAL Canterbury Bulldogs El Masri puts the Dogs eight in front, a valuable lead as the rain begins to pour down. Canterbury Bulldogs 8-0
32 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Bulldogs Try...:Possible try to Holdsworth, just checking for a knock on and possible player taken out.
32 min: NO TRY - Sin Bin: The Dogs don't get a try, but do earn a penalty and an extra man advantage after Cronk is sent to the sin bin for taking out Goodwin off the ball.
32 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Long passing by the Dogs takes full advantage of the constant overlap they'll have for the next ten minutes. Sensational conversion from the sideline by El Masri. Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 14-0
37 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Bulldogs Try...: A very, very interesting looking attempt by Buddy Gordon here.
37 min: NO TRY - Goal Line Dropout: Slater played the ball on his own line to no-one, and Gordon dove around from marker to plant the ball in-goal, however replays showed Inglis grounded it first.
38 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Storm Try...: Inglis is claiming a try, just checking to see who grounded it first.
38 min: NO TRY - Goal Line Dropout: Goodwin ruled to have grounded the ball first. Storm will have a minute and a half to get on the board before half time.
39 min: Patten marks the ball in goal, and the Bulldogs will carry this lead into half time.
HALF TIME It's half time here at Bluetongue Stadium, and the table topping Bulldogs are leading the Melbourne Storm by 14 points to nil. Both teams are without their halfbacks, but while the Storm are only missing their for another couple of minutes, the Bulldogs will be without theirs for the rest of the night after Brett Kimmorley picked up a corked thigh in the first half. It hasn't fazed them though, scoring all their points with Kimmorley off the field, and save for a couple of handling errors could be up by a lot, lot more. The Storm, on the other hand, have looked threatening at times, but for the most part have looked lost.
14 points isn't a lot, but with the ominous form the Bulldogs are showing it's a mighty mountain for the Storm to climb. Will they do it? Stay tuned here on LeagueUnlimited.com for the second half to find out!
40 min: And we're back underway!
42 min: Cronk is back on the field, as the Bulldogs look to spread the ball early in their own half.
44 min: Smart play by Ennis out of dummy half catches Tolman not square at marker. Bulldogs up inside the Storm half.
45 min: Cronk tries an early chip for Slater, but he's ruled to have been offside. Dogs get a fresh set on the Storm 30.
47 min: As the old adage goes 'when you're on, you're on'. The Bulldogs have earnt a repeat set after a last tackle play looked to have fallen apart not once, not twice, but three times.
51 min: TRY Melbourne Storm A simple short-side raid has found the ball in the hands of Will Chambers, who uses his strength to get inbetween Millart and Goodwin for the try. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith unsuccessful. Canterbury Bulldogs 14-4
53 min: Suddenly all the momentum looks to be with the Storm, making big metres on the set following the try before a cross field kick, while it is collected by Goodwin, comes up good for the Storm as Goodwin is dragged into touch.
58 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Coming off the back of a penalty, Holdsworth found Patten at second man, who took the ball to the line before finding Millard, who then found Goodwin, who passed back into Millard for the try that may just seal the win for the Dogs with 20 to go. Another sensational kick from the sideline by Hazem. Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 20-4
63 min: Inglis flies high above El Masri to collect the cross field kick, but knocks it back to Finch who is unable to control the ball.
66 min: The Storm are really struggling to wrap up the ball, with the Bulldogs offloading at will.
68 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs A last tackle grubber from Ennis bounces off Finch's arms and into the hands of Gary Warburton, who was already diving over the tryline. Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 26-4
71 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Storm Try...: Possible try to Chambers, just checking onside and grounding.
78 min: Cronk tries a short side play with Slater, but it is well read by the Bulldogs and the ball goes into touch.
FULL TIME It's full time here at Bluetongue Stadium, and the Bulldogs have comprehensively defeated the Melbourne Storm by 26 points to 10.