Bold Bulldogs stun Storm

The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have roared into serious contention for the 2012 Telstra Premiership today with a clinical and brave 20-4 victory over competition leaders the Melbourne Storm in front of 11,876 fans at Virgin Australia Stadium, Mackay.

While it was a victory built largely on defence, there were moments of pure brilliance from the "home" side Canterbury, and it started from the opening whistle. A strong wind saw the kickoff come down short, and the Bulldogs ended up opening the half with three straight sets on the Storm line.

The 'Dogs piled the pressure on early but it wasn't until the tenth minute of the contest that they converted it into points, a crafty kick back inside to the posts from Josh Reynolds bounced off the post padding, allowing hometown Mackay boy Ben Barba to outleap Storm & Maroons half Cooper Cronk to score the try.

In a first half where the penalties were few and far between, it was uncharacteristic errors which bought the Storm unstuck, giving the Bulldogs a lead which ultimately proved unassailable. The Belmore boys' second try came in the 32nd minute - a controversial video referee decision given Benefit of the Doubt to centre Krisnan Inu gave Canterbury a 10-0 lead which they maintained til halftime.

The Storm were the first to score after halftime, building early pressure with plenty of possession in the Bulldogs half. Their only points of the match came through Anthony Quinn off a neat Cameron Smith cross-field chip, the conversion waved away.

After 55 minutes the Storm looked like they'd scored again, Hinchcliffe getting the ball across the line before being denied after several players assisted with obstruction on Bulldogs defenders. Moments later Ben Barba exploded through the Storm defence, finding Inu outside him to set up the Bulldogs' third try, opening up a ten point lead for the blue-and-whites.

From there on, the Bulldogs were forced to defend against arguably the best attack in the competition, and managed to hold them out over 5 repeat sets in a row.

The "home" side capped off a superb day at the office with a candidate for try of the season - Ben Barba fielding a deep kick just inside the dead ball line, escaping from the in-goal and running 60 metres before kicking in-field for Josh Morris, who collected the spoils and scored his 12th try of the year.

Ben Barba takes home three points in LeagueUnlimited.com's player of the year awards, while the Storm fullback Gareth Widdop was a definite standout. Next week both sides will enjoy the bye before returning to action in Round 18 - the Bulldogs face the Tigers on Friday 6th July at Allianz Stadium, while the Storm host the Raiders at AAMI Park a night later.

Match Details
Canterbury Bulldogs 20 defeated Melbourne Storm 4
National Rugby League - Round 16 - Sunday June 24, 2012 2:00pm
Venue: Virgin Australia Stadium, Mackay
Referees: Ben Cummins and Gavin Badger
Video Referee: Sean Hampstead
Touch Judges: Dan Eastwood and Chris Butler
Crowd: 11,876
Halftime: Canterbury Bulldogs 10 Melbourne Storm 0

Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Ben Barba (1 Try)
2 Points - Josh Reynolds
1 Point - Gareth Widdop

CANTERBURY BULLDOGS (20)
Tries: Krisnan Inu (2), Ben Barba, Josh Morris
Conversions: Krisnan Inu (2/4)

MELBOURNE STORM (4)
Tries: Anthony Quinn
Conversions: Cameron Smith (0/1)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Rugby league makes it's first grade NRL debut at Virgin Australia Stadium Mackay today - the Bulldogs moving this all-important home game against the Storm to the venue, which is home to their try-scoring fullback Ben Barba, as well as Storm rep centre Dane Nielsen.
Team changes will be forthcoming soon, but we can confirm the Toyota Cup result, played yesterday at Lidcombe Oval - the Bulldogs won 34-16. Earlier today in Mackay, the Easts Tigers stole the show from the hosting Mackay Cutters, winning 36-10 in the curtain raising Intrust Super Cup match.
CHANGES: For the Storm, Rory Kostjasyn is OUT. Maurice Blair will play five-eighth, Cam Smith moves to hooker with Ryan Hinchcliffe going back to the bench. There are no changes for the Bulldogs, with Martin Taupau and Josh Jackson dropping off the extended bench. Kickoff nearing... set for a 2pm start. A number of players wearing pink items (boots, compression garments etc) in today's game, supporting Women in League. Late mishap in training sees Greg Eastwood OUT of the Bulldogs lineup. Stagg will start, with Josh Jackson coming on to the bench.
Melbourne in their main purple strip out onto Virgin Australia Stadium Mackay. Now cue Metallica... here come the Bulldogs!
We are GO for Sunday footy, Bulldogs kickoff, Storm first ball.
1 min: The kickoff has come down 30m out and the Bulldogs have it! And now a penalty for them inside a minute!
2 min: Ennis held up over the line on the 5th tackle, play the ball... grubber in-goal... line drop-out. What a start from Canterbury!
4 min: Fifth tackle kick this time is claimed by Maurice Blair for Melbourne and he's tackled 1m out. Storm ball.
4 min: Todd Lowrie loses the ball for Melbourne. Bulldogs scrum 30m out.
6 min: Last tackle kick prompts a knock-on from Halatau for the 'Dogs, Storm will finally get a chance as a penalty is blown on tackle two, to get them out of their own 20m zone.
7 min: Storm's last tackle play a bit messy as well, a kick across field gets too much air and goes out on the full. Bulldogs handover 20m out.
10 min: TRY
TRY Canterbury Bulldogs
Scored by Ben Barba. Conversion attempt by Krisnan Inu successful.
WHO ELSE? Benny Barba scores in his hometown off a deft inside kick by Josh Reynolds... Barba leaps over Cronk to claim the ball after it bounced off the goalpost padding. Inu adds the two and the Bulldogs have a 6-0 lead to show for their early dominance.
Canterbury Bulldogs 6-0
12 min: Both sides with superb sets after the try getting the kicks right to the opposition end of the park. Quality contest so far.
14 min: Storm error on halfway, Josh Morris finds himself in possession and the Bulldogs have the ball in attacking position once again.
17 min: Poor last tackle kick from Keating for Canterbury sees the pressure off Melbourne.
18 min: Storm continue to test Barba under the high ball, but he holds true and JUST stays in the field of play.
20 min: Storm drag Ben Barba back in-goal forcing a line dropout.
21 min: Cronk launches a low cross-field kick at Jonathon Wright but he fields it perfectly. 20m restart.
22 min: The Bulldogs have the Storm very thin down the right, but a Reynolds forward pass to Wright is called back. Melbourne scrum.
23 min: Storm last tackle bomb from Widdop sees Barba take it cleanly in goal. 20m restart again.
27 min: Penalty Bulldogs - only the third of the game (count is CBY 2-1). Reynolds takes the quick tap on his own 20m.
28 min: Last tackle kick isn't great, again straight into the arms of Gareth Widdop. Storm to work it away from their own 10m line.
31 min: Another penalty to Canterbury, this time Proctor making a high tackle. Bulldogs with another set in Storm territory here...
32 min: VIDEO REFEREE for a possible Bulldogs try to Krisnan Inu...
33 min: TRY
TRY Canterbury Bulldogs
Scored by Krisnan Inu. Conversion attempt by Krisnan Inu unsuccessful.
Very contentious call there, but Inu has been granted a try benefit of the doubt. He fails to convert his own four-pointer.
Canterbury Bulldogs 10-0
35 min: Bulldogs with some flamboyant passing and offloading!
35 min: Bulldogs bench forward Josh Jackson is on for his first appearance in blue and white at NRL level.
36 min: INJURY - Luke MacDougall not in a good way - his eye seems to be closed over and it's blood everywhere. Meanwhile Storm kick it out on the last, Bulldogs scrum 10m out.
38 min: Penalty Storm 30m out with two left in the half, Ennis ruled offside. Storm tap and run.
39 min: Storm throw it up on tackle four to the wing, but the Dogs come down with it... until Mick Ennis drops it. Storm scrum with one minute remaining.
HALFTIME and the Bulldogs have repelled two Storm raids on their line before going to the sheds. Defence has been a hallmark for the Bulldogs while the Storm have produced some uncharacteristic errors to be behind by ten. With the class of the Storm evident regardless, the second half will be a beauty.
41 min: Second half is underway. Bulldogs with the wind assistance this half.
43 min: Mick Ennis puts it out on the full from halfway. Storm scrum, not the best start to the half for the 'Dogs.
44 min: Melbourne force an error from Josh Morris on tackle two. Storm scrum 10m out from the Bulldogs line.
45 min: Penalty Storm, inside the ten Bulldogs.
46 min: Storm force a line dropout, MacDougall forced to get rid of the ball over the dead ball line.
48 min: TRY
TRY Melbourne Storm
Scored by Anthony Quinn. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith unsuccessful.
Cam Smith sees an opportunity out wide, the chip goes out for Quinn... TRY! Wright couldn't turn and chase in time for the Bulldogs and Quinn wins the race. Smith starts left, it blows right but blows right across the face - no goal!
Canterbury Bulldogs 10-4
51 min: Penalty Storm, they're now back on the attack!
52 min: And another penalty to the Storm, a full set inside the Bulldogs' 10m...
53 min: Video referee says NO TRY for the Storm, Hinchcliffe crosses but Bulldogs defenders were impeded by the positioning of Bryan Norrie.
54 min: Video Referee now needed at the other end... Barba breaks into the backfield and puts Krisnan Inu over for a try... checking obstruction again this time.
55 min: TRY
TRY Canterbury Bulldogs
Scored by Krisnan Inu. Conversion attempt by Krisnan Inu unsuccessful.
Barba breaks into the backfield, puts Inu in space and that's a try for Canterbury. Inu's conversion hits the post and bounces away.
Canterbury Bulldogs 14-4
56 min: Storm reclaim the ball from a short-ish kickoff but they knock it on. Bulldogs scrum.
60 min: Barba error off the high ball, Storm with a full set inside Canterbury's 20m.
61 min: More pressure on the Bulldogs, a penalty against them for running a blocker.
62 min: And ANOTHER penalty, the Storm have to keep mounting pressure here!
63 min: Bulldogs get the ball back after countless sets of defence... and then spill it in their own half. Storm scrum 30m out.
64 min: Another Bulldogs error this time off the Storm fifth tackle kick... another set to withstand...
66 min: Storm error tackle five, Bulldogs finally off the hook? They have a set to complete and get a long kick away.
67 min: ...and they do so, Keating puts it deep into Storm territory. Widdop brings it back to 25m from his own line.
71 min: Some great end-to-end stuff from both sides since the long run of repeats at the Bulldogs' end of the field - Storm still looking good, Bulldogs defence remains outstanding.
72 min: Storm penalty for accidental offside. Three tackles on, Storm lose it. Meanwhile CROWD announced as 11,876. Superb turnout in the tropics!
76 min: TRY
TRY Canterbury Bulldogs
Scored by Josh Morris. Conversion attempt by Krisnan Inu successful.
Easily the best try of the 2012 season! Barba off his own dead ball line gets out, runs 60m before toeing the ball in-field for Josh Morris, who picks it up and SCORES! Amazing rugby league! Inu converts and the Bulldogs have beaten the Storm!
Canterbury Bulldogs 20-4
79 min: Bulldogs almost get repeat sets on the Storm line late here, but a forward pass means Storm scrum.
FULLTIME at Mackay - amazing game of footy from Canterbury and they'll no doubt shorten dramatically in premiership favouritism following a very solid defensive performance... not to mention some enterprising attack. Melbourne were slightly off their game, although the wind early on probably hampered their chances.

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