|Match Date||13th Mar, 2000|
|Venue||Endeavour Field (Toyota Park)|
The first thing that needs to be done when examining last night's game at Toyota Park is to ignore the scoreline — that's what Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes did when declaring his side -should be considered genuine premiership contenders after their performance.
He was essentially correct in suggesting the scoreline was a narrow prism to view the game through as it did distort the on-field reality.
In a match which was always going to be a contest of two immovable objects, not so much colliding but grinding away at each other like tectonic plates, the feast was in the detail.
And when it came time to consider what had been devoured there were of course opposing views to the texture and merit of the contest.
The match itself produced few startling moments with a 98-metre try from Sharks centre Colin Best being the exception''. With that in mind the post match comments were more interesting, particularly those from Folkes.
"What we proved tonight is that we are certainly in this competition, we're competitive at the very least and I think we showed we really are strong contenders to win the competition." Folkes said.
"I thought our defence was the best it's been all year. We showed we were really strung. I just think it's proof we're a chance to win the comp which up until now not many people have given us that credit."
Folkes is right about the Bulldogs not receiving any credit. Their ratings dipped badly after a slow start to the season but have been on the improve with three wins before last night's error-induced loss.
In contrast the Sharks have enjoyed far greater approval among the critics which will only increase after moving into third spot on the ladder following their fourth win.
While Folkes sang the praises of his team's defence which in large nullified the Sharks' free, flowing attack, his counter-part John Lang was not so glowing about the Bulldogs ability to score points.
"I felt confident when we had a 2-0 lead and were defending that well. I never really felt they were threatening our line with their attacking game." Lang said.
And that was the strange aspect of the game. The Bulldogs dominated the first half in just about every facet except on the scoreboard and more than held their ground in the second half.
They had all the field position and prime attacking opportunities in the opening 40 minutes, especially at one period where they had three sets of six at the Sharks' line.
It was after withstanding that barrage that Best stepped in to turn the shape of the game. He swooped on a grubber kick from Brent Sherwin two metres off the Sharks line.
It was supposed to be a positive kick, loaded with potential for a try or at least another set of six. Instead the yield was all negative for the Bulldogs as Best got into stride and after just 10 metres it was clear no one was going to touch him before he got to the other end of the field.
Mat Rogers landed his second shot at goal for the night after earlier booting a penalty and the Sharks went to the break with a 8-0 lead.
"I thought in the first half we were clearly the better side but a few things didn't go our way including a couple of calls." Folkes said.
It was a fair estimation of events up until that stage, with Folkes upset at a number of calls from referee Mark Oaten which he will take up through the official channels.
The second half saw the Sharks find a little more rhythm as their forwards essentially cancelled out the tough Bulldogs pack. Rogers scored again after a smart piece of play involving Nick Graham and Jason Ferris.
The Bulldogs have lost talented five-eighth Corey Hughes who damaged knee ligaments which could sideline him for six to eight weeks.Source: The Australian
|Hazem El Masri||Wing||0||0||0||0|
|Corey Hughes||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|
|Steve Price||Front Row||0||0||0||0|
|Darren Britt||Front Row||0||0||0||0|