|Match Date||16th Apr, 2000|
IT WAS a wranglefest, an old-fashioned tough and intimidating contest between two proud rivals. It was obvious the minute the Bulldogs arrived at Campbelltown yesterday, their game faces on and eight days of intense preparation behind them, they had, as the latest coaching cliche puts it, "Come to play football".
Three tries each does not reflect the mental and physical dominance of Canterbury yesterday.
They dominated Wests Tigers in the first 20 minutes and controlled the game thereafter.
Wests Tigers went into the game as the arm-wrestle kings, having won or drawn every close game.
Offer Canterbury an arm wrestle and the eyes of players like captain Darren Britt begin to roll like poker-machine reels.
After all, throughout the past two decades the Bulldogs defined the football equivalent of trench warfare.
Speak tough through the week, as Wests Tigers Terry Hill and Jarrod McCracken had, and those blue-and-white eyes spin even faster, the reels finally settling on a jackpot for their coach.
Still, Canterbury coach Steve Folkes denied the words of the Wests Tigers gave his team the mental ammunition it required.
"We had a look at ourselves through the week," he said. "We don't like playing the way we have been."
Britt disagreed in a diplomatic way. Making the point that his team mates do read newspapers, he said: "They [Wests Tigers] regard themselves as a tough forward pack but we regard ourselves as a tough forward pack."
Pausing for effect, he lowered his tone, allowed himself a brief smile and said : "I think we showed them."
Wests Tigers coach Wayne Pearce, disappointed his team had lost before a ground-record crowd of 18,119, said: "They were a lot more focused than us. They played with more purpose early on.
"Still, one of their tries came from the ball hitting the post and Hoppa [winger John Hopoate] was taken out in another try."
The Bulldogs' second try, in the ninth minute for 12-0, did come after a kick hit a padded upright but the reaction of half Ricky Stuart as he grubbered the ball suggested he had aimed at it. The ball bounced into the grateful arms of Hazem El Masri, deputising as fullback.
A soaring kick by Stuart in the eighth minute of the second half bounced without any Wests Tigers players near it, possibly because Bulldog Steve Price leapt for it and collided with Hopoate in a position well distant from where the ball's downward spiral ended.
Bulldog winger Daryl Halligan forced it, the old-timer's try taking the score to 20-6.
Stuart's precision kicking game was far superior to that of Wests Tigers' Craig Field, who was less accurate than NATO during the Kosovo war.
Bulldog second-rower Steve Reardon ran with plenty of purpose.
When he found himself with only the Wests Tigers fullback in front of him, he chose to collide with the unfortunate Matt Seers, hitting him like a lifetime supply of bad news.
Seers lay starched on the greensward and, although he returned, he will not be included in next week's starting line-up.
He was sin-binned in the first half for arguing with referee Moghseen Jadwat, and Pearce said he would enforce his policy of relegating sin-binned players to first division or the bench.
Canterbury's first try came after only five minutes when they worked themselves to a midfield position from a tap.
Wests Tigers hooker Darren Senter fell for a dummy and allowed lock Travis Norton to cut through.
The day also ended unfortunately for Senter when he was assisted from the field following an accidental case of knees in the back.
Pearce, lamenting the loss of Senter's thrust from dummy-half, said the hooker would have X-rays today, while McCracken, who missed the final 30 minutes, was suffering a badly corked leg.
Wests Tigers' first try came five minutes from the interval when prop Shane Walker popped up a pass to fellow substitute Steve Georgallis as he was falling to ground.
Their second try came midway through the second half when El Masri fielded a Seers kick only to have it slip from his grasp.
Centre Kevin McGuinness pounced on the loose ball and passed it to winger Joel Caine.
The home team scored again with one minute left when second-rower Mark O'Neill kicked the ball and it rolled into a gap between two bewildered Bulldogs.
McGuinness found himself retrieving yet another kick and claimed the try himself.
The Bulldogs' sole injury was replacement Nathan Sologinkin's broken nose.
It was a surprising casualty, considering the Bulldogs reminded us yet again they are the league's hard-nosed team.Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
|Hazem El Masri||Fullback||1||0||0||4|
|Brent Sherwin||Five Eighth||0||0||0||0|
|Ricky Stuart||Half Back||0||0||0||0|
|Steve Reardon||Second Row||0||0||0||0|
|Bradley Clyde||Second Row||0||0||0||0|
|Dennis Scott||Front Row||0||0||0||0|
|Darren Britt||Front Row||0||0||0||0|