The build up to this game between the Bulldogs and the Roosters have been huge, and the game sure lived up to the expectations at Aussie Stadium in front of a full house of 41,123 screaming fans where the Roosters defeated the Bulldogs by 28-18 and now cement their place in the NRL Grand Final next Sunday.
With the first sellout at Aussie Stadium since 1989, the atmosphere was amazing.
The Roosters started superbly with some crunching tackles and very quick plays. An early penalty goal gave the Roosters the lead but it wasn't until the 17th minute when a 40/20 kick by Wing set up the first try of this important match for the Roosters.
With a lead of 16-0 late in the first half to the Roosters, the Bulldogs showed they were not going to be left out of the game with a late try just before the break and at half time the lead had narrowed to 16-6.
A powerful start by the Bulldogs soon evaporated when the Roosters scored an early try in the half.
In the 53rd minute of the match Anasta sent a missile pass out to Utai on the wing who scored. This one play lifted the Bulldogs pack however the defence of the Roosters put pressure on them forces error and breaking down play.
Another try to Utai was not enough to peg back the lead the Roosters had who came out the victors in a hard fought match.
The Roosters no head into another Grand Final match against either the Warriors or the Panthers who will fight for the other spot in the final tomorrow afternoon at Telstra Stadium.
Saturday 27 Sep 2003 7:30 PM Aussie Stadium Crowd: 41,123 Referee: Bill Harrigan Video Referee: Chris Ward
Scorers: ROOSTERS 28 Tries: Hegarty, Flannery, Walker 2 Goals: Fitzgibbon (5/5), Crocker (1/1) defeated BULLDOGS 18 Tries: O'Meley, Utai 2 Goals: El Masri (3/3)
Leagueunlimited.com's players of the match:
3 - C Wing (Roosters) 2 - A Morley (Roosters) 1 - A Minichiello (Roosters)
By the clock:
A sellout at Aussie Stadium tonight, the atmosphere is electric. The winner through to the Grand Final next Sunday
0 min: KICK OFF!
5th min: NEWS - Superb field position for the Roosters so far in the match. Some heavy hits going in by both sides
6th min: PENALTY GOAL - Fitzgibbon for Roosters. The Bulldogs defence penalised for being inside the 10 metres and they are punished by the boot of Fitzgibbon. Roosters 2-0
9th min: NEWS - The Bulldogs close to their line following a helpful penalty, end up with a scrum feed 20 metres out, losing the ball forward eventually on the 5th tackle. Great pressure, great defence
12th min: NEWS - 40/20 kick for Wing (Roosters) running from dummy half. The Roosters with the scrum feed 10 metres from the try line. Walker flings the ball in from the sideline on the 5th tackle only to find Bulldogs' hands. The score still 2-0 to the Roosters
17th min: TRY - Hegarty for Roosters. Continued pressure finally pays off for the Roosters. Very good scrambling defence could not stop the offloading to get Hegarty across the line. Fitzgibbon from very close to the sideline, kicks a beauty. Roosters 8-0
25th min: NEWS - End to end plays with both sides showing a bit of patience
25th min: Try - Flannery for Roosters. A great run firstly by Minichiello, then Morley sets up a great try thruogh the hands of Fittler, Walker and finally Flannery. Fitzgibbon slots the conversion. Roosters 14-0
30th min: NEWS - The Roosters have settled well. Minichiello grabs the ball from a kick by the Bulldogs and darts through the tacklers for a 60 metre return run
32nd min: PENALTY GOAL - The Bulldogs caught offside from quick plays by the Roosters. Fitzgibbon has no trouble with the kick, 20 metres out. Roosters 16-0
33rd min: NEWS - Fitzgibbon (Roosters) in the changing room although reports say it's not an injury
35th min: NEWS - The Bulldogs have their first line dropout in the match after some great go forward plays
37th min: TRY - O'Meley for Bulldogs. Back to back penalties right by the tryline. Harrigan slows the play to get himself out of the way. O'Meley one on one with Crocker just rolls over the top of the defender. El Masri from out in front, adds the 2 points. Roosters 16-6
39th min: NEWS - A scrum feed to the Bulldogs just out from their line ends in a line dropout on the first tackle. Anasta (Bulldogs) finishes the half with an unsuccessful field goal attempt.
HALF TIME: A fast and furious first half with the Bulldogs slowly clawing their way back into the back, finishing the half well. Rooster have the lead 16-6.
41st min: NEWS - The second half begins. Stats from the break show possession to be very even. Errors are 5-2 to the Roosters. The big difference is 20 missed tackles by the Bulldogs to the Roosters 5
42nd min: NEWS - Corey Hughes (Bulldogs) breaks open the Roosters defence with a great run offloading to the speedster Vagana, only to break down with a forward pass to Mason. Great start by the Bulldogs in this half
46th min: TRY - Walker for Roosters. Another forward pass called breaks down the Bulldogs attack. A break through the defensive line by Flannery helps the Roosters attack. Fittler passes a brilliant pass in the next play to put Walker through the gap. He juggles the ball and scores under the posts. Crockers adds 2 points from out in front. Roosters 22-6
49th min: NEWS - Fitzgibbon (Roosters) returns to the game with his left thumb heavily strapped, a chipped bone at the end of the thumb
52nd min: NEWS - A penalty, a line dropout all to the Bulldogs but to no avail. The Roosters defence holds well, and still have the lead by 22-6
53rd min: TRY - Utai for Bulldogs. The Bulldogs start their attack from the halfway mark. On the 20 metre line, Anasta throws a bullet like pass out to Utai who is flying on the wing, unmarked and unstoppable. El Masri from the sideline, gets a corker. Roosters 22-12
57th min: NEWS - Glen Hughes (Bulldogs) signals to the sideline going down injured in a tackle he made. Looks to be a shoulder injury. Hegarty (Roosters) off the field also with a rib/hip problem
59th min:TRY - Walker for Roosters. A knock on by Utai trying to intercept comes off the chest of Cross who takes off from the Bulldogs 30 metres mark and heads up the sideline. An inside pass to Walker who's in under the post unopposed. Fitzgibbon converts from out in front. Roosters 28-12
66th min: NEWS - A forward pass in the Bulldogs attack breaks down what looked to be a strong attack. Roosters still lead comfortably by 28-12
68th min: TRY - Utai for Bulldogs. The Bulldogs on attack yet again and look to be stopped by some great scrambling defence by the Roosters. Anasta on the 5th tackle put the ball up high in goal with Utai coming up with the goods to score. El Masri takes the quick kick from out in front to add the extra 2 points. Roosters 28-18
74th min: NEWS - Fittler (Roosters) looks to be struggling with his left arm and playing no part in the Roosters attack, but defending like a trooper
77th min: NEWS - The Bulldogs make great yardage from the Roosters try line however a kick through by Norton goes over the dead ball line and the attack breaks down
79th min: NEWS - Once again the Bulldogs attack comes to a halt with a foreward pass, their hopes of a Grand Final place slipping away with the Roosters holding the lead 28-18
FULLTIME: The Roosters have played their way through in fine fashion to another Grand Final with a well deserved win. The Bulldogs say goodbye to 2003.