|Match Date||16th Sep, 2001|
|Venue||Sydney Football Stadium|
The Cronulla Sharks today blitzed a wounded Bulldogs team to advance to the grand final qualifier against Newcastle next Saturday. The Sharks came out firing early and never lost control of the game, eventually disposing of the Bulldogs by a massive 52-10.
After twenty minutes of play, the Shire based team had leapt from the blocks early with a twenty point lead, following tries to lock Nick Graham, hooker Jason Ferris and half Preston Campbell and a penalty goal to Mat Rogers. Graham's try in particular was a dazzler, coming off the end of a sixty metre movement.
During this time, the Bulldogs defence had been shining, with their forwards putting on several huge driving tackles which left the Sharks reeling. However, their inability to contain the Sharks' speedsters had costed them, resulting in the early headstart to Cronulla.
The Dogs soon hit back, with a try to Willie Talau after a Darrell Trindall bust. Sharks winger Colin Best made a strong effort to pull the powerful Talau across the sideline, but to no avail, with the try awarded. The kick from the sideline was too difficult for Hazem El Masri, though, with the score remaining at 20-4.
With half time closing in, Mat Rogers struck a killer blow to the wounded Dogs, picking up a loose ball and racing down the touchline to score. He was unable to convert his own try, leaving the Bulldogs to trail by twenty at the break.
The second half resumed in much the same manner as the first, and after only three minutes the Sharks had crossed again. Mat Rogers, continuing his fine day with the ball, took advantage of a Paul Mellor offload to race away up the field. Shortly after, Preston Campbell crossed for his second of the afternooon - ensuring a victory to the Sharks.
However, the Bulldogs quickly struck back, when departing captain Darren Britt made an excellent offload for the oncoming Steve Price. Price juggled the ball before scoring the Bulldogs' second - and only - try of the day.
The Sharks quickly resumed their attacking positions, though, after Mat Rogers stole the ball in a one on one tackle. From the ensuing play, a Jason Stevens pass put Martin Lang into space, where the hard working prop forward scored only his second try ever in the top grade, much to the pleasure of the celebrating Sharks supporters.
Further tries to the Sharks simply added to the Bulldogs woes. Colin Best scooped up a loose ball to race fifty metres for a try, and only minutes later Luke Stuart, who was filling in for the injured Chris McKenna, spotted a gap to race away for another try. Finally, with only seconds on the clock, Adam Dyks stepped and swerved before sending a ball to Jason Ferris to score as the siren blasted through the Sydney Football Stadium - final score 52-10.
It would have been a disappointing way to end his career for the Bulldogs' Darren Britt who will head to St. Helens next season. His many years of hard service to rugby league and the Canterbury Bulldogs deserved a better send off than what he received today, however, he can hold his head up high for today's efforts with a particularly strong defensive game.
The Sharks will now play Newcastle next Saturday night at the Sydney Football Stadium. Chris McKenna, who was suffered rib cartilage early in today's game, is expected to be the only casualty - given by coach John Lang only a very small chance of playing next week.
|Hazem El Masri||Wing||0||1||0||2|
|Darren Smith||Five Eighth||0||0||0||0|
|Darrell Trindall||Half Back||0||0||0||0|
|Jamie Feeney||Second Row||0||0||0||0|
|Willie Mason||Second Row||0||0||0||0|
|Steve Price||Front Row||1||0||0||4|
|Darren Britt||Front Row||0||0||0||0|