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Following a controversial week over his playing future, Bulldogs back rower Sonny Bill Williams has put together a man-of-the-match performance to see the Canterbury Bulldogs to a 30-22 victory over the Cronulla Sharks at ANZ Stadium tonight.
The Sharks opened the scoring after five minutes through back rower Fraser Anderson. But that would the last time the visitors would lead the scoreboard.
The Bulldogs scored the next three tries, centre Tim Winitana getting the first of his double in the 12th minute followed by five-eighth Daniel Holdsworth and then Williams before the break to post an 18-4 half time lead.
The home side went further ahead with Winitana getting his second in the 46th minute.
The Sharks however, were able to overcome numerous missed tackles to score the next two tries. Back rower Danny Nutley crossed in the 49th minutes before half back Brett Kimmorley got his team to 24-16 in the 58th minute.
The turning point came four minutes later with second-rower Andrew Ryan capitalising on a tremendous run from lock forward Reni Maitua, the Bulldogs skipper pushing aside several defenders to snare a 30-16 lead with just 18 minutes remaining.
But the Sharks were not done with. A classy team try in the 68th minute to Ben Pomeroy made it an eight-point ball game, the rangy centre running onto a well-timed pass from lock Greg Bird before racing around the Canterbury fullback Cameron Phelps to score under the posts.
The final minutes saw some end-to-end play with the Bulldogs ultimately scoring a well deserved win.
In the post-match conference, a restrained Sharks coach Ricky Stuart used all the 'D's' in describing the Sharks' effort as 'disgusting' and 'disgraceful' before labelling his team's defence as 'dreadful'.
Canterbury Bulldogs 30 def Cronulla Sharks 22 Round 11 - May 26th, 2008 7:00pm Venue: ANZ Stadium Referee: Tony Archer Half time: Bulldogs 18-4 Crowd: 9,289
Canterbury Bulldogs (30)
Tries: Tim Winitana (2), Daniel Holdsworth, Sonny Bill Williams, Andrew Ryan
Goals: Hazem El Masri (5/5)
Cronulla Sharks (22)
Tries: Fraser Anderson, Danny Nutley, Brett Kimmorley, Ben Pomeroy
Goals: Brett Seymour (3/4)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match
3 Points: Sonny Bill Williams (Bulldogs)
2 Points: Corey Hughes (Bulldogs)
1 Point: Andrew Ryan (Bulldogs)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
Teams getting ready to come onto the field. Good night for footy. Sharks kick off and its game on!
5 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Fraser Anderson crashes over out wide on the end of classy Sharks' backline movement from close range. Conversion attempt by Brett Seymour goes across the face of goal and is unsuccessful. Cronulla Sharks 4-0
12 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Tim Winitana on the end of an overlap scores in the corner. Follows a solid run from forward Jarrad Hickey. Sideline conversion attempt from Hazem El Masri never in doubt. Canterbury Bulldogs 6-4
15 min: Sharks fullback Brett Kearney looks to be in some trouble injury-wise. Bulldogs with plenty of momentum.
17 min: INJURY - Kearney (Sharks) is off with what looks like an ankle injury. Meanwhile Sharks forward Isaac De Gois is creamed after putting his head in the wrong place in a tackle.
20 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Daniel Holdsworth slices through a gap well wide of the ruck to score. Follows error from Sharks with skipper Paul Gallen knocks on from a De Gois pass. Conversion attempt by El Masri successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 12-4
30 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Sonny Bill Williams crashes through some soft defence to score on the right side - all the Bulldogs points are coming in much the same area. Follows stand-in fullback Cameron Phelps making an easy bust to put the Sharks on the back foot. Wide conversion attempt by El Masri is spot on. Canterbury Bulldogs 18-4
35 min: Bulldogs hooker Corey Hughes runs some 30m in his 250th first grade, the Sharks marker defence looking ordinary. In fact, the Sharks looking disorganised across the park.
36 min: Bulldogs fullback Phelps, taking a high kick, is smashed by a front-on and hard tackle from Sharks centre Ben Pomeroy. Phelps is in disneyland and play stops as trainers give him the once over.
38 min: There's a hint of a bit of head butting between the young bucks, Sharks' Greg Bird and Bulldogs' Sonny Bill Williams locking antlers as things are heating up just before the half time break.
Half time: Bulldogs 18-4 Bulldogs bouncing back to dominate the first half. Sharks missing too many tackles.
Second half underway...
46 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Winitana gets a double down the right side, with the Bulldogs again exploiting some poor defence on the Sharks left side. Follows a peanlty against Gallen, then a beaut hit up from Bulldogs prop Andrew Ryan. Hughes and Phelps being involved in the next ruck. Hazem El Masri slots another from out wide and its all Bulldogs. Canterbury Bulldogs 24-4
49 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Back rower Danny Nutley on the burst following a Gallen pass from close range. No stopping Nutley and the try is scored 10m wide of the posts. Conversion attempt by Seymour successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 24-10
52 min: INJURIES Bulldogs: Holdsworth is sporting some ice on the leg and is unlikely to return. Sharks: Nutley is heading up the tunnel.
54 min: Possible TRY to Bulldogs. Video ref having a look... VERDICT... NO TRY - Knock on against Bulldogs. 20m restart to the Sharks.
57 min: DUST UP - Sonny Bill Williams and Ben Ross following a ball strip. Sharks get the penalty for the strip.
58 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Kimmorley runs onto a Bird grubber kick to put it down just inside the dead ball line. Video ref gives the green light, and this match is suddenly up for grabs! Conversion attempt by Seymour from right in front is successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 24-16
62 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Andrew Ryan caps off a captain's knock following a great 30m bust from Reni Maitua up the middle of the park. Ryan in support, and with all the work to do, pushed aside several tacklers to get over the line. Conversion attempt from in front by El Masri is successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 30-16
68 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Pomeroy into a gap from half way stands up Phelps and races away to score under the posts. Follows a long range back line movement with Bird delivering the money ball to Pomeroy. Conversion attempt by Seymour successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 30-22
73 min: INJURY - Sharks' De Gois hurt in a tackle and looking a bit dizzy for the second time this match.
74 min: Sharks with a scrum feed from 10m out following a scrambling for the ball. Sharks win the scrum but then lose the ball, then Bulldogs lose the ball moments later!
75 min: Bulldogs with the ball and half back Ben Roberts runs some 50m before being grassed by Sharks forward Kade Snowden in cover. Action-a-plenty.
78 min: Sharks with the ball but have 90m to run and less than 90 seconds to go.
Full time: Bulldogs 30-22 An often entertaining match with the Sharks having slightly more possession. But the Bulldogs winning the battle of the ruck, and winning it well with more line breaks. Sharks putting on a good show but were guilty of too many missed tackles, particularly on their left side. Bulldogs led for most of the match but the turning point came with Andrew Ryan's try in the 62nd minute.