|Match Date||4th Jun, 2004|
|Venue||Homebush (Telstra Stadium)|
Queensland Origin winger Justin Hodges was sent off last night as the Bulldogs avenged their 35-0 flogging by the Sydney Roosters in round three with a victory of similar magnitude over the competition leaders.
Hodges had just missed a tackle that led to a try by man-of-the-match Willie Tonga when he caught Bulldogs skipper Steve Price high from the kick-off in the 49th minute.
"It was a high shot to the head, there's plenty in it, you're gone," said referee Paul Simpkins, pointing to the dressing rooms.
The Bulldogs went on to win 40-12, in front of 22,572 fans at Telstra Stadium, crossing for three more tries against the 12-man Roosters, who had lock Luke Ricketson reported for a high tackle on Bulldog Dennis Scott.
Tonga, signed from Parramatta as a replacement for Nigel Vagana, turned in a dazzling display, the 20-year-old Queensland Origin hopeful scoring in the 21st, 47th and 60th minutes.
"I'd love to see Willie Tonga in a Queensland jersey," Bulldogs captain and Maroons prop Price said of Tonga.
Asked whether the 35-0 loss to the Roosters in March played a role in last night's performance, Tonga said: "Yes and no. The Roosters are sitting on top and we've lost our last two in a row so we knew that we couldn't afford to lose another one."
Price described the dismissal of Queensland teammate Hodges as "disappointing".
"I don't remember the tackle but I do know you don't mean to do those sorts of things on the football field," he said. "I'm sure Justin would have loved to have been out there for the rest of the game."
Roosters coach Ricky Stuart said of his side's heavy defeat: "We lost the game in the first 20 minutes. We are a very consistent side and that was an uncharacteristic performance. It's my job to make sure that's the only one we have this season."
The first nine minutes of the second half featured one of the tries of the season, a quickfire response and the dismissal of Hodges.
Roosters second-rower Michael Crocker's 44th-minute try can only be described as freakish, beginning as it did with a muffed attempted at a clearing kick by halfback Brett Finch.
With the ball on the turf and about to be snatched up by a Bulldogs attacker, Roosters skipper Brad Fittler lashed at it with his foot. The ball bounced miraculously into the five-eighth's hands and he set off past stunned Bulldogs lock Tony Grimaldi.
Chris Flannery was on hand to take a pass and he, in turn, offloaded to Crocker, who set his sights on scoring between the posts. But Tonga hauled Crocker down short, the Kangaroos utility struggling to reach the line. Video referee Tim Mander was called on to determine if he had knocked on.
The try was awarded and second-rower Craig Fitzgibbon converted to narrow the margin to 18-12.
That scoreline remained for only three minutes, Tonga beating Hodges and racing 20 metres to score in the left corner, El Masri failing with his conversion attempt.
Perhaps frustrated by his defensive gaffe, Hodges then ironed out Price from the kick-off and was sent off.
With 20 minutes to go, Tonga scored again, stand-in five-eighth Reni Maitua taking a Brent Sherwin crossfield kick and holding two defenders at bay before releasing a one-handed offload. El Masri's conversion gave the Bulldogs a 28-12 lead heading into the final quarter.
The Bulldogs held an astonishing 18-6 half-time lead following tries to second-rower Willie Mason, fullback Luke Patten and Tonga.
The Dogs' first try was scored by Mason in the seventh minute after some slick passing on the left. El Masri converted from wide out.
At the 16-minute mark, Bulldogs halfback Sherwin landed a 40-20 kick and from the scrum win Tonga drew two defenders before releasing Patten for another converted try.
The Roosters were still recovering from that setback when the scoreboard ticked over once more.
This time, Patten turned his back on the defence five metres out and batted the ball on to an unmarked Tonga, who crossed in the corner. El Masri missed the conversion attempt.
Tonga had a try disallowed by Mander in the 28th minute, although match official Simpkins had detected a high tackle in the lead-up.
Roosters second-rower Crocker was penalised for his tackle on Mason and El Masri calmly potted a goal from 40 metres out, almost in front, for 18-0.
The Roosters managed to make things interesting six minutes short of half-time when centre Ryan Cross sped 25 metres down the left flank to cross in the corner. Patten hit him with an almighty shoulder charge as the Sydney Origin rep crossed and Mander was called on to make sure he had not gone into touch in-goal.
Mander hit the green light and second-rower Fitzgibbon converted from the sideline for 18-6.
|Hazem El Masri||Wing||1||6||0||16|
|Tony Grimaldi||Five Eighth||0||0||0||0|
|Brent Sherwin||Half Back||0||0||0||0|
|Willie Mason||Second Row||1||0||0||4|
|Andrew Ryan||Second Row||0||0||0||0|
|Steve Price||Front Row||0||0||0||0|
|Mark O'Meley||Front Row||0||0||0||0|