|Match Date||2nd Apr, 2000|
|Venue||Homebush (Stadium Australia)|
It was almost half an hour after Bradley Clyde had come from the field and Bulldogs doctor Hugh Hazard was still working on the former Test forward, "needle and cotton in hand", as coach Steve Folkes put it.
Like a MASH unit surgeon, Hazard was stitching Clyde up as carefully but quickly as he could to get him back on the paddock — something he had done to players hundreds of times previously.
But in more than 20 years as the Bulldogs medical officer, Hazard could remember seeing only once before a player's head split open the way Clyde's was during yesterday's 22-14 defeat of Northern Eagles.
"Pat English had a split right down to his nose," Hazard recalled.
"But [Clyde] was just a mess. It was pretty hard to get [the skin] back together."
Clyde, received 25 stitches in a large T-shaped gash across his forehead caused by a head clash midway through the first half to go with the seven in the corner of his right eye from another clash last weekend.
"Apparently they could see my skull," Clyde said.
"They could see right through to the bone, but once they deadened it I never really felt any pain."
Once considered one of the code's pin-up players, Clyde's looks after the game matched the way the Bulldogs had played.
They may have ended a three-match losing run but there was nothing pretty about the win.
Even Folkes conceded as much afterwards. When asked what had pleased him about the win, the Bulldogs mentor said simply: "The two points."
Perhaps that's why he didn't think there was anything extraordinary about Clyde's second-half return in headgear.
"It's only skin," Folkes said. "He wasn't concussed or anything. It just took them a long time to stitch it.
"He came off in around the 20-minute mark and they were still needle and cotton in hand at the end of half-time."
At that stage, Northern Eagles held a 10-4 lead but there were already indications well before the break that the Bulldogs had them rattled.
Only a Brendon Reeves try just before half-time disguised that fact, with the Bulldogs dominating field position through a superior kicking game almost from the moment fullback Andrew King scored the Eagle’s opening try in the ninth minute. Not that Folkes was impressed by some of the options halfback Ricky Stuart took. Nevertheless, he revealed the Bulldogs had set out to target Jason Taylor, and statistics showed the tactic succeeded, with the Northern Eagles halfback having four kicks charged down and twice putting the ball out on the full.
"I think it's been proved over the last few times we've played them that things can go wrong for him," Folkes said.
"He's their main playmaker and kicker, so you always try to get pressure on their kicker and playmaker and I think the result today was pretty much what we expected."
With five-eighth Brent Sherwin charging down a Taylor kick near halfway, New Zealand Test centre Willie Talau helped level the scores at 10-10 through a converted try just three minutes after the interval.
After a succession of penalty goals from veteran winger Daryl Halligan, the Bulldogs had suddenly moved to a 16-10 lead by the 68th minute.
Yet with only seven minutes remaining, Reeves cut the deficit lo 16-14 with his second try after Eagles five-eighth Michael Buettner ran over the top of Sherwin and drew Darren Smith and Hazem El Masri before passing to his unmarked winger.
Taylor missed the conversion from out wide and Bulldogs lock Travis Norton sealed the match five minutes later when he regathered his grubber off the right-hand upright and dived over to score under the posts.
"That's the luck we haven't had lately," Folkes said.
"But I said to them the other day 'We're one point off the bottom but we're also only four points off second' so with eight teams in the finals series, I think you only need to string two together and you're right back in the thick of things."
By contrast, the Eagles, belted 50-10 by North Queensland the previous weekend, have now dropped out of the top eight for the first time and while coach Peter Sharp maintained yesterday's performance was an improvement, he added that "it wasn't much of a game, was it?"
It was a bit of an arm wrestle and fairly tough," he said. "That was probably one of the few positives you could get out of the game."Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
|Hazem El Masri||Wing||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|