|Match Date||31st Mar, 2002|
|Opponent||St George Illawarra|
|Venue||Homebush (Stadium Australia)|
The Bulldogs have won their first game of the season taking out the St.George-Illawarra Dragons by 33-14 in the first game of today's double header at Stadium Australia. Playing with slickness, flair and pure muscle the Bulldogs inflicted the Dragons 2nd and worst defeat of the season leaving the joint venture club with just one win from their three starts.
The match was marred by the sickening late cocked elbow delivered to Bulldogs five-eighth Braith Anasta 31 minutes into the first half by Dragons hooker Mark Riddell after an Anasta kick downfield. Riddell was quite rightly sent off by referee Bill Harrigan (who had a flawless game) with the incident relieving memories of the 70's. Anasta didn't sustain any serious injury after the elbow to the jaw; however with the Dragons down 18-0 at that stage in the match it did their own chances of winning serious injury.
Despite the set back of a man down the Dragons actually played better and managed to be on level footing with the Bulldogs (if not dominating at times) in the 2nd half. But it was all in vain after the Bulldogs whirlwind start which netted 18 points in as many minutes as the Bulldogs stamped their authority on the match from the outset.
After a piggyback penalty upfield the Bulldogs made the Dragons pay with their first chance when Hazem El Masri swooped upon a Brent Sherwin grubber to score a rather simple try underneath the posts. The execution was done to perfection.
By the 13th minute the Bulldogs had continued their superiority in both field position and possession and posted further points through Gavin Lester after a passing movement involving a large proportion of the Bulldogs team in the lead up. El Masri's sideline conversion bumped off the up right and went over to give the home team a 12-0 advantage.
This was extended to 18-0 when Mark O'Meley carried 4 defenders over the line after a nifty inside pass from Braith Anasta 5 metres out from the goalline. O'Meley barged forward and managed to ground the ball amongst the pile of bodies. After 58 first grade appearances the try was O'Meley's first in top grade football.
The Dragons were lucky the scoreline wasn't worse when the Bulldogs bombed several on the money chances before the Riddell send off in the 31st minute. The penalty that ensued allowed the Bulldogs to extend the score to 20-0.
Lee Hookey followed through a grubber to score just before halftime as the Dragons showed courage to step up from their very poor start.
Eight minutes after the break Darren Smith barged over in very soft fashion signalling alarm bells for the scoreboard attendants but to the Dragons credit they were able to hold their line for the next 25 minutes. Two tries within 6-7 minutes to the Dragons gave a slight hope to the Dragon faithful and as the match neared the 70th minute only 12 points was the margin.
Playing his best game of the season so far, Braith Anasta calmly potted a field goal to send the Bulldogs 13 ahead, before a Jamie Feeney intercept minutes later put the Bulldogs 33-14 ahead.
For the Bulldogs, Mark O'Meley had a powerhouse game up front along with Price, Braith Anasta hit form and sparked a brilliant combination with the very impressive Brent Sherwin. The Bulldogs pack was steady and reliable throughout the game while the backs were excellent in both attack and defence only looking susceptible to tries off kicks.
It was a disappointing effort by the Dragons, but they can take heart out of some of the individual performances particularly Ben Hornby and Jason Ryles, and also their ability to stay in the game after the send off. Mark Riddell looks likely to miss at least six weeks through suspension over his late elbow on Braith Anasta which will only make things worse for the Dragons, especially in their dilemma's in the goalkicking department. The Dragons have the bye next week.
The only bad news for the Bulldogs is the leg injury (possibly ankle) to Tony Grimaldi that looked like something that may see him on the sidelines for a lengthy period.
|Hazem El Masri||Wing||1||6||0||16|
|Braith Anasta||Five Eighth||0||0||1||1|
|Brent Sherwin||Half Back||0||0||0||0|
|Steve Reardon||Second Row||0||0||0||0|
|Tony Grimaldi||Second Row||0||0||0||0|
|Mark O'Meley||Front Row||1||0||0||4|
|Steve Price||Front Row||0||0||0||0|