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The Canterbury Bulldogs have turned on a tremendous second half performance to thrash St George Illawarra 38-12 at WIN Stadium tonight.
Following an entertaining first half, the Bulldogs scored a try against the run of play and lifted to score again. At half time, the visitors held a handy 12-2 lead.
Following a no-try ruling against the Dragons, the Bulldogs replied to be the first team to score in the second half and then proceeded to take charge of the ruck.
Saints were hampered by knee injuries to centre Matt Cooper and front rower Jason Ryles who were both forced from the field. But it was the Canterbury defence, followed up by some sensational attacking movements, which dictated the end result.
DRAGONS 12 Tries: Poore, Hornby Goals: Riddell 2/3 defeated by BULLDOGS 38 Tries: Patten 2, Grimaldi, Harris, El Masri, Feeney Goals: El Masri 7/7
By the clock: 0 min: Great conditions in Wollongong and a big crowd at WIN Stadium this evening. Kickoff!
10 min: Still 0-0. Saints applying the pressure with repeat sets at the Bulldogs line.
20 min: No change, still 0-0. Possession favouring St George 56%.
24 min: PENALTY GOAL - Dragons. Mark Riddell from almost in front after Willie Mason is penalised for hanging onto the tackled player. Dragons 2-0
27 min: TRY - Bulldogs. Luke Patten scores after Mason picks up a loose ball and runs at the line. Follows a bizarre call from the referee when Mason is called "held" but runs on. Referee Mander, for reasons best known to himself, orders a scrum to be packed down when a penalty was the go. From the scrum, Shaun Timmins then knocks on at first receiver and the Bulldogs take full advantage, scoring from close range. Conversion 15m in from touch Hazem El Masri. Bulldogs 6-2
32 min: TRY - Bulldogs. Tony Grimaldi busts through from 20m out and scores next to the posts. Conversion El Masri. Bulldogs 12-2
38 min: NEWS - Saints come close to scoring but knock-on. A dust-up follows with a bit of feeling coming into the match.
HALF TIME: Saints had opportunities early but were being held out by some solid Canterbury defence. Nevertheless, they looked to be going the ascendancy before the Bulldogs scored a try against the run of play. After that, gaps started appearing in the Dragons' defensive line and the Bulldogs scored again. Possession: Dragons 51%
Second half underway...
42 min: NO TRY - Dragons denied when Tony Jensen is ruled in front of the kicker. Follows a mid-field bomb from Lachlan Russell which is dragged down by Ben Creagh who runs away to 'score'. The video ref rules that Jensen, who was within 10m of the play, to be offside.
49 min: TRY - Bulldogs. Patten gets a double following a bomb. Conversion El Masri OK. Bulldogs 18-2
52 min: NEWS - Jason Ryles (Dragons) after twisting his left knee has been assisted from the field. Dragons playing some ordinary football and the Bulldogs have the home side rattled.
56 min: TRY - Bulldogs. Ben Harris scores out wide after the defence is found wanting. Follows a 50/50 penalty against Ashton Sims (Dragons) for incorrect play-the-ball. Conversion from El Masri is outstanding. Bulldogs taking charge and well in front 24-2.
64 min: TRY - Bulldogs. El Masri scores out wide following a chip over the top to the flank from Braith Anasta. Bulldogs semingly offloading at will. El Masri conversion is a another ripper. Bulldogs 30-2
67 min: TRY - Bulldogs. Jamie Feeney scores 15m in from touch. Follows a sensational play where Jamaal Lolesi makes a break down the left flank and then kicks in-field for Feeney, who catches it on the full and has enough momentum to score. Conversion El Masri is OK. Bulldogs 36-2
NEWS - Dragons front rower Jason Ryles will not be back but has been diagnosed with a minor ligament damage and will not be out for the long term.
73 min: TRY - Dragons. Justin Poore runs into a huge gap to score his first 1st grade try 10 metres in from touch. Conversion Riddell unsuccessful. Bulldogs 36-6
75 min: NEWS - Fights breaking out as frustrations get to boiling point. Dragons five-eighth Timmins is penalised for thumping Anasta.
77 min: PENALTY GOAL - Bulldogs. El Masri makes mistake as Riddell is penalised for a head high. Bulldogs 38-6
79 min: TRY - Dragons. Ben Hornby scores behind posts following a deft grubber from Lincoln Withers. Saints get into double figures. Conversion Riddell OK. Bulldogs 38-12
FULL TIME: An all round dominant performance from the Bulldogs who put in a tremendous second half effort to blow Saints off the park. Possession: Bulldogs 54% Standout performance from Bulldogs skipper Steve Price with 30 tackles, 16 hitups and 122 metres gained. Mark O'Meley also put in top notch effort in the forwards. Hazem El Masri was the pick of the backs with a personal tally of 25 points, scoring a try and kicking 7 goals from 7 attempts.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - S Price (Bulldogs) 2 - M O'Meley (Bulldogs) 1 - H El Masri (Bulldogs) -----------------------------------------