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An entertaining day of Rugby League at Leichhardt Oval has seen the Canterbury Bulldogs defeat the Sydney Roosters 24-22.
Both teams chose to play largely different lineups in each half and the experience in each shone through in different quarters. It was Willie Mataka who opened the scoring early on for the Roosters, the Bondi boys skipping ahead 4-0 early. The Bulldogs then hit back right on quarter time with new recruit Jonothan Wright scoring under the posts, Bryson Goodwin's conversion giving his side a two-point lead at the first change.
Standout half and arguably man-of-the-match Josh Reynolds bagged the first of his two tries just 8 minutes into the second quarter, with Goodwin again spot-on with the boot, giving the Bulldogs a 12-4 advantage which they would take to halftime.
The first team to launch a big comeback would be the Roosters, with three fantastic tries sending them back to the comfort of a 22-12 at three-quarter time. With an hour gone on the clock, Jake Friend, Justin Carney and Sam Perrett added their names to the scorers list and suddenly the Roosters looked set for an emphatic win.
Instead, just as it had done at halftime, the break changed the momentum of the game. The Bulldogs hit back straight after the resumption of the fourth quarter through rookie centre Tim Lafai, while Josh Reynolds took over the goalkicking duties from Goodwin. Reynolds made no mistake with his first attempt, then with less than ten minutes remaining scored the second of his brace before cooly slotting the conversion to get the Bulldogs home.
Post-game there are injury concerns for both sides, although one is more serious - Roosters forward Anthony Cherrington, who missed the entire 2010 season, injured his knee in the closing stages of the match. Early reports suggest he has done his ACL in the left knee, having suffered through right knee problems last year. Elsewhere, early in the match Bulldogs hooker Joel Romelo sustained a head-knock but returned to the field in the second quarter.
Canterbury Bulldogs 24 (Josh Reynolds 2, Tim Lafai, Jonothan Wright tries; Bryson Goodwin 2/2, Reynolds 2/2 goals) def Sydney Roosters 22 (Justin Carney, Jake Friend, Sam Perrett, Willie Mataka tries; Braith Anasta 0/1, BJ Leilua 2/2, Carney 1/1 goals).