|Match Date||9th May, 2003|
|Venue||Homebush (Telstra Stadium)|
The Bulldogs have defeated National Rugby League premiers the Sydney Roosters 32-26 in the much-hyped round nine clash at the Olympic Stadium.
The Bulldogs' Johnathan Thurston and Matt Utai both crossed for tries inside the final minutes to seal the match, dubbed by commentators as the grand final that never was.
The Bulldogs were easily last year's dominant side but had their campaign torpedoed by a salary cap rort and were stripped of 37 competition points while the Roosters went on to claim their first title since 1975.
Friday's showdown more than delivered on its pre-match hype, threatening to become the first NRL game to be decided by a golden point with the scores locked at 26-26 in the final minutes.
But Bulldogs winger Matt Utai beat four defenders to crash over in the 78th minute, with Hazem El Masri adding the extras to claim victory.
El Masri had helped the Bulldogs to a 14-8 half-time lead with a 10-point tally by crossing for a try along with centre Ben Harris to keep the Roosters on the back foot.
But the scores were locked up at 14-14 when Roosters winger Todd Byrne dived on a Brad Fittler grubber kick just three minutes after the re-start and Craig Fitzgibbon converted.
The Roosters hit the front nine minutes later when Fitzgibbon knocked over a penalty goal before team-mate Shannon Hegarty crossed in the 55th to stretch the lead to 22-14.
Interchange forward Andrew Ryan was awarded a 57th minute try by the video referee to reduce the Roosters' advantage to two points, 22-20.
Sydney looked to have got the decisive break when centre Ryan Cross finished off a movement sparked by Anthony Minichiello in the 66th minute to lead 26-20.
But yet again the scores were locked up when reserve back Johnathan Thurston pounced on a Brent Sherwin grubber kick in the 74th minute and El Masri converted to make it 26-26.
Utai then clinched it for the Bulldogs to extend their dominance over the Roosters, who have now won only three of their last 18 clashes.
|Hazem El Masri||Wing||1||6||0||16|
|Braith Anasta||Five Eighth||0||0||0||0|
|Brent Sherwin||Half Back||0||0||0||0|
|Steve Reardon||Second Row||0||0||0||0|
|Glen Hughes||Second Row||0||0||0||0|
|Steve Price||Front Row||0||0||0||0|
|Willie Mason||Front Row||0||0||0||0|