2001: ROUND 17

vs Northern Eagles

Match Details
Match Date 24th Jun, 2001
Opponent Northern Eagles
Result Win
Coach Steven Folkes
Captain Darren Britt
Venue Gosford (NorthPower Stadium)
Crowd 13,222
Referee Paul Simpkins

The Bulldogs have turned around a 20-0 deficit after 14 minutes to record a remarkable 32-30 victory over the Northern Eagles at Northpower Stadium. Led by inspired performances from the like of Craig Polla-Mounter and Hazem El Masri the Bulldogs were able to take the lead with just 8 minutes remaining and hold despite a nerve wracking final few minutes.

The Eagles hit an early 2-0 lead after Ben Walker was taken out by Luke Patten after kicking forward for himself after only 3 minutes of play. The penalty was given where the ball landed 10 metres in front of the posts which Walker had no problem with.

The Eagles bombed a try just a minute later when Walker broke the line and found Ben MacDougall who only had to link with his winger for a try, but held onto the pass for too long - eventually it was knocked on when he tried to pass too late.

But it didn't matter as a few minutes later Brett Kimmorley was over for a brilliant individual try. Geoff Toovey had found some holes weaving around the Bulldogs props before Kimmorley palmed off two and raced away to score under the posts. It was very poor defence by the Bulldogs. Walker's conversion made it 8-0.

Before the Bulldogs knew it the score was blowing out. After failing to find touch with a penalty kick one set, then penalised in possession after a play of the ball error the Eagles had another chance and they made the Bulldogs pay. An inside ball by Kimmorley to Steven Menzies caught the Bulldogs inside defence napping. Menzies offloaded to support as the last line came to him, with Andrew King crossing underneath the sticks.

It was 20-0 in the blink of the eye when the Bulldogs coughed up possession. Big prop Paul Stringer scored a soft try by barging his way over after another inside ball catching some lazy defence. Stringer was almost held up but he was able to pivot and reach out to score. Walker's conversion made it 20-0 after only 14 minutes and Bulldogs fans were having nightmares of the Canberra Round 15 game all over again.

But the Bulldogs had no ball at all in the game at that point and they would have to use all their resources to fight back. A promising raid with the Dogs first chance almost saw Brett Howland cross in the corner, but he was bundled into touch as the cover came. But following the Eagles next set, El Masri plucked an intercept and ran to the tryline to put the Dogs back into the game. The Eagles may well have broken away to score down the touchline had El Masri not taken the ball, but he took the odds. Once again the Eagles paid the price for their flat attacking line.

The doggies nearly scored off their next set when a great ball from the unwanted Darren Smith put El Masri away down the sideline. A terrific tackle by Toovey saved the day. On the next play Braith Anasta noticed an unmarked Howland on the far side of the field and put a kick across field. Only a poor bounce saved the Eagles from a certain Dogs try.

But it was only short joy for the Eagles with the Bulldogs scoring on their next opportunity. A slick passing movement gained the Bulldogs 20 metres and then the inspirational Polla-Mounter dummied and stepped his way over to score. El Masri's conversion got the Bulldogs back to 20-12 down.

Following a very dangerous throw by Phil Bailey on Jamie Feeney the Bulldogs had a penalty 15 metres out. Polla-Mounter took a quick tap, charged towards the line and burrowed his way over to score. Polla-Mounter "had taken the game by the scruff of the neck" once more. El Masri's conversion made the score 20-18 just before the break.

It remained that way at halftime - it was clearly a case of two halves in the one half. The Eagles had all the ball in the opening 20 minutes and the Bulldogs weren't shaping up in defence, but all of a sudden somehow it turned around. It would have been a major concern to Eagles coach Peter Sharp who's motto coming into this game was to play for 80 minutes not 50 or 60.

The Eagles were straight on attack after the break following a short kick off but the Bulldogs defence held firm. The Bulldogs had an early opportunity as well but Anasta was held up just short as he looked like a chance to score.

The Bulldogs were hit with a storm of Eagles attack shortly after and they did will to stop the constant wave. But eventually the pressure told when Kimmorley grubbered through for Menzies who collected the ball and scored. Walker's conversion put the Eagles back out to an 8 point lead and halted all the Bulldogs momentum.

The Bulldogs reduced the margin by two with a penalty goal when Darrell Trindall was taken out after chipping for himself. Once again the Eagles looked to have opened up.

Down 26-20 the Bulldogs needed something special, but instead the Eagles looked to have wrapped it up when Adam Muir crossed against the club chasing his services. The Bulldogs defended well on their own line stopping two players just short of the line, but despite four Bulldogs defenders Adam Muir barged his way over in a Herculean effort. There was a hint that El Masri was initially impeded by another Eagles player in making a tackle but the try was ruled. The important conversion from outwide was missed by Ben Walker, but the Eagles were in front by 10.

In the 64th minute the game turned on it's head once more with the Eagles attacking and threatening to score again. Anasta made yet another intercept vs the Eagles and ran 70 metres before linking to Talau who was finally caught just 5 metres short. The Eagles rallied and the Bulldogs threw the kitchen sink at them, but couldn't find a way through. A penalty and then 4 tackles later Darren Smith swiveled then threw a brilliant backdoor flick pass to put Sherwin over besides the posts. El Masri's conversion got the Bulldogs back within four. It was terrific attack by the Bulldogs, but also terrific defence by the Eagles.

Three minutes later the Dogs were finally in front. Deep inside their own half the Bulldogs spun the ball wide following an offload from Darren Britt. A back in form Talau barreled ahead making 30 metres. The ball came back across to the other side of the field before El Masri threw a miracle flick pass to Smith looming in support on the wing. El Masri didn't even look when he threw the pass and it put Smith over for the match leveling try. Smith had one defender to beat before scoring, but he was hit high before crashing over. Had he not scored there would have been a distinct chance of a penalty try. However; the try was on the board, the scores were level and El Masri had the pressure goal to kick. It sailed over the black dot from outwide and sent the Bulldogs supporters into raptures. For Smith the try was bitter sweet as he was told his services were not going to be required next year.

However; there still remained 7 minutes to hold on to this slender lead. The Bulldogs had two heart flutters. They gave away a penalty for stripping which put the Eagles in good field position but they coughed up the ball with a poor pass. Then with just over a minute remaining Ben Walker was in clear space with a full head of steam. El Masri flew across in cover after Walker's 60 metre run. By tackle five the Eagles were just ten metres out, but Kimmorley's kick flew dead and the Bulldogs held onto possession and won the game.

It was nothing short of a total embarrassment for the Eagles who could be in the top four if they could just hold onto their good leads. Polla-Mounter was inspirational with two tries before halftime to get the Dogs back in game - it must be said however, that the Bulldogs bench was a key feature in turning the game in the Bulldogs favour at 20-0 down. It was no coincidence that Eagles props O'Meley and Stringer were rested around this time.

For the Bulldogs Polla-Mounter, the unwanted Smith, Anasta, Trindall, Talau and El Masri all had big games. Players such as Britt lead from the front as always.

For the Eagles the props once again went well, Toovey was inspirational along with Ben Walker and Menzies hit back to top form with a stellar display.

Source: www.rleague.com

Player Position Tries Goals F Goals Points
Luke Patten Fullback 0 0 0 0
Hazem El Masri Wing 1 6 0 16
Brett Howland Wing 0 0 0 0
Shane Marteene Centre 0 0 0 0
Willie Talau Centre 0 0 0 0
Braith Anasta Five Eighth 0 0 0 0
Darrell Trindall Half Back 0 0 0 0
Darren Smith Lock 1 0 0 4
Willie Mason Second Row 0 0 0 0
Steve Reardon Second Row 0 0 0 0
Steve Price Front Row 0 0 0 0
Darren Britt Front Row 0 0 0 0
Craig Polla-Mounter Hooker 2 0 0 8
Brent Sherwin Replacement 1 0 0 4
Jamie Feeney Replacement 0 0 0 0
Barry Ward Replacement 0 0 0 0
Dennis Scott Replacement 0 0 0 0
Total: 5 6 0 32