|Match Date||16th Jul, 2000|
|Venue||Homebush (Stadium Australia)|
Did the Wests Tigers read the Bledisloe Cup script? Walk on to the Olympic stadium and launch an onslaught so ferocious you have three tries before some spectators have their seats.
As the All Blacks had done to the Wallabies the previous night, so the Tigers did to the Bulldogs yesterday. It was deja vu for followers of the two codes. Almost.
While New Zealand squandered a 24-0 lead on Saturday but fought back to steal an epic struggle 39-35, at the death yesterday West Tigers had no answers as an 18-0 lead turned into a 36-26 defeat, keeping in ninth place a team which had once been second.
“[Wests Tigers] must have been watching the union last night," Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes said after the match. "It was 18-0 in 19 minutes, which is not the way you would like to start."
No, indeed, though Folkes did not count on the Bulldogs rediscovering the razzle-dazzle which made them the entertainers when he was running around.
Having fought back to trail 18-12 at half-time, the Bulldogs allowed the Tigers in early — but then the home side threw the switch to vaudeville and scored four converted tries by keeping the ball alive.
"It was probably a little more flamboyant than I would have liked but they are the ones out there," Folkes said "The [Willie Talau] try — there wouldn't have been too many tries better than that this year."
So thought the crowd of 15,097 as the Bulldogs spirited the ball from the left wing to the right and back again, through a dozen sets of hands, before Talau crossed.
Young five-eighth Brent Sherwin handled twice, passing to captain Darren Britt before trailing behind to take the ball and deliver it to Talau.
My old man always gets in my ear and says, 'Keep backing up'," Sherwin said.
He said the exciting attack "makes you wish we had played like that sooner", while Wests Tigers winger John Hopoate said to lead 18-0 and "blow it away is mind-blowing".
The Bulldogs remain in 11th place on the National Rugby League ladder, with Folkes not hopeful of stealing a finals berth with two rounds to play.
"You would want to be buying a lottery ticket if it happened," he said. It is obviously fairly remote. Three teams (Sharks, Wests Tigers and St George Illawarra] have to lose six games between them. Mathematically it’s possible but we are not worrying too much about that. We are just enjoying our footy a bit."
Not enjoying his was Tigers coach Wayne Pearce.
"The Bulldogs came up with plenty of offloads and second-phase play and that's really what cut Melbourne up last week and what caused us some headaches," he said.
"The good thing is we have two home games at Campbelltown (against Newcastle and Melbourne] to finish the season off. If we win one of those it will probably get us in the eight but hopefully we will win both."
Pearce defended halfback Craig Field, who was at times brilliant but spilled the ball at dummy half 10 metres out from the line to ignite the Bulldogs' second try.
“ I couldn't fault him at all," Pearce said "He receives some criticism at times, but I have no criticism of him today."
The Bulldogs lost Steve Price in the opening minutes to a medial ligament injury which is likely to end his season.
Wests Tigers' Terry Hill suffered a corked thigh soon after scoring the first try and "was a passenger after that", Pearce said.Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
|Hazem El Masri||Fullback||2||0||0||8|
|Brent Sherwin||Five Eighth||0||0||0||0|
|Corey Hughes||Half Back||0||0||0||0|
|Jamie Feeney||Second Row||1||0||0||4|
|Steve Reardon||Second Row||1||0||0||4|
|Steve Price||Front Row||0||0||0||0|
|Darren Britt||Front Row||0||0||0||0|