ICYMI, on Thursday the @NRL - National Rugby League released the 2018 #NRLDraw.
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The Bulldogs proved that they are going to be a major premiership threat this season by defeating the Canberra Raiders 24-20 this evening at ExpressAdvocate Stadium.
In a close and exciting match, the game was up for taking as the Bulldogs went into the sheds at halftime with only a 12-10 lead.
Then 45 seconds into the second half, the Bulldogs looked like they were going to run away with the contest when Roy Asotasi ran 30 metres to score. But five minutes later the Raiders hit back when Clinton Schifcofske scored under the posts.
After an extended period where the Bulldogs were camped inside the Raiders half, Bulldogs forward Mark O'Meley scored what many thought would be the match winning try. But when Phil Graham scored for the Raiders in the 71st minute - to bring Canberra to within four points - it sparked some good solid football from the Raiders and some brain explosions from the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs however were able to hold the Raiders out.
For the Bulldogs, Brent Sherwin had an outstanding game and was well supported by all the Bulldogs forwards. For the Raiders, Phil Graham had an excellent game on the wing as the Raiders forwards more than matched their more fancied opponents. What probably cost the Raiders the game was poor fifth tackle options especially when they were close to the Bulldogs line. If they are going to be a finals side they will need to improve this area of their game.
ExpressAdvocate Stadium Referee: Tim Mander Video Referee: Graeme West Touch Judges: Steve Carrall, Jason Weinstein
Scorers: BULLDOGS 24 Tries: Harris, Lolesi, Asotasi, O'Meley Goals: El Masri 4/4 defeated RAIDERS 20 Tries: Graham 2, Schifcofske Goals: Gafa 4/5
By the clock: Bad news for Raiders fans as Jason Croker and Joel Monaghan are late withdrawals due to injury. For the Bulldogs Braith Anasta is placed on the bench as Reni Maitua is selected at 5/8th.
0 min: Kick Off
4 min: Goal-Raiders: Stand in 5/8th Matt Gafa is successful with an attempt at penalty goal after Bulldogs lock Tony Grimaldi is penalised for having a hand in the play the ball 30 metres out from his own line. Raiders 2-0.
13 min: News: Luke Patten is down receiving attention from the Bulldogs trainer after being on the receiving end of a high tackle from Raiders second rower Ruben Wiki. Wiki is subsequently placed on report.
13 min: Try-Bulldogs: Centre Ben Harris scores in the corner after running onto a good cut out pass from Luke Patten. Hazem El Masri is successful with the conversion. Bulldogs 6-2.
17 min: Try-Raiders: Winger Phil Graham runs 50 metres to score under the posts after intercepting a cut out pass from Bulldogs 5/8th Reni Maitua. Matt Gafa is successful with the conversion. Raiders 8-6.
19 min: News: Bulldogs second rower Andrew Ryan is penalised for a grapple tackle.
25 min: Goal-Raiders: Matt Gafa is successful with an attempt at penalty goal from 25 metres out after Bulldogs second rower Willie Mason is penlised for being offside. Raiders 10-6.
29 min: News: The Bulldogs manage to regain possession in the Raiders half after Bulldogs half back Brent Sherwin kicks the ball into touch off a 20 metre restart.
31 min: Try-Bulldogs: Bulldogs winger Jamaal Lolesi scores next to the posts after some clever lead up work from Brent Sherwin. Hazem El Masri is successful with the conversion. Bulldogs 12-10.
Halftime Report: In a close and evenly fought match it is still anyone's for the taking. The key will be discipline as the penalty count is 7-4 to the Raiders. The side that can show the most discipline in the second half will be the likely winner tonight.
41 min: Try-Bulldogs: Interchange forward Roy Asotasi runs 30 metres to score after running onto an offload from winger Hazem El Masri. El Masri is successful with the conversion attempt. Bulldogs 18-10.
45 min: Try-Raiders: Fullback Clinton Schifcofske scores under the posts after backing up a break made by second rower Ian Hindmarsh. Matt Gafa is successful with the conversion. Bulldogs 18-16.
57 min: News: After a couple of looks from the video referee Bulldogs prop Mark O'Meley is denied a try after it is ruled that he is short of the line.
60 min: News: The Bulldogs have spent most of the second half camped inside the Raiders half but the Raiders keep on holding the Bulldogs out.
61 min: News: Raiders interchange player Alan Rothery is placed on report for a spear tackle on Bulldogs captain Steve Price.
62 min: News: After lengthy consultation with the video referee, Bulldogs lock Tony Grimaldi is denied a try after it is ruled that he was held up by Raiders 5/8th Matt Gafa.
63 min: Try-Bulldogs: Prop Mark O'Meley scores after being in the right place at the right time after Corey Hughes outsmarts the Raiders markers out of dummy half. Hazem El Masri is successful with the conversion. Bulldogs 24-16.
67 min: News: Bulldogs half back Brent Sherwin kicks the ball out on the full after attempting a 40/20 kick.
70 min: News: Both teams have plenty of interchanges up their sleeve.
71 min: Try-Raiders: Raiders winger Phil Graham cuts back inside to score in the corner to put the Raiders back in the contest. Matt Gafa has a narrow miss with the conversion attempt. Bulldogs 24-20.
80 min: News: Bulldogs fullback Luke Patten is denied a try by the video referee after it is ruled that he interfered with a Raiders player while attempting to pick up a loose ball in the Raiders in goal.
Fulltime Report: In a very close and exciting game both sides showed that they will both be very hard to beat this year. ----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - B Sherwin (Bulldogs) 2 - M O'Meley (Bulldogs) 1 - P Graham (Raiders) -----------------------------------------