Bulldogs win but look rattled heading into the finals

The Canterbury Bulldogs have overcome a determined but undisciplined Cronulla Sharks 28-14 at Shark Park this evening. The Bulldogs scored four tries to three and the Sharks were in the match until well past the 60th minute but the boot of Hazem El Masri again was worth it's weight in gold with the winger kicking six goals from six attempts.

The Sharks finished the season with a spirited performance and it will be something they can build on for next season while the Dogs must now prepare for their daunting assignment against the New Zealand Warriors at Sydney Showground next weekend which is sure to be a sell out.

On form, the Dogs would struggle to win with the Warriors hitting a purple patch at the right time while the Dogs, after dominating sides up until last weekend, will need to improve in several areas of their game, most notably their ball handling which again cost them tonight and kept the Sharks in the contest.

Tonight's win will not have pleased Steve Folkes as the Warriors are a massive step up in class to the Sharks and will be the teammost likely to emerge from the bottom half of the eight to challenge for the title.

Scorers: SHARKS 14 Tries: Bailey, Peachey, Friend Goals: Anderson 1/3 defeated by BULLDOGS 28 Tries: Patten, Harris, Hughes, El Masri Goals: El Masri 6/6

Saturday 6 September 2003 7:30 PM Toyota Park Referee: Stephen Clark Video Referee: Chris Ward

Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - L Patten (Bulldogs) 2 - D Peachey (Sharks) 1 - B Sherwin (Bulldogs)

By the clock: 1st min: Kickoff! We are underway.

4th min: TRY - Bulldogs. The Bulldogs strike early through an early try to Luke Patten. Conversion successful. Bulldogs 6-0.

9th min: TRY - Bulldogs. Ben Harris extends the bulldogs lead as they look very hungry in the opening stages of this match. Conversion successful. Bulldogs 12-0.

14th min: TRY - Sharks. Phil Bailey gets the Sharks on the board with a try in the corner. Conversion unsuccessful. Bulldogs 12-4.

NEWS: Travis Norton has been sent to the sin bin for a professional foul as the Sharks begin to apply some sustained pressure on the Dogs line.

27th min: PENALTY GOAL. El Masri slots a penalty goal from 30 metres out, directly in front. Bulldogs 14-4.

37th min: TRY - Bulldogs. Corey Hughes scores after Willie Mason runs 50 metres and offloaded to Hughes who scores just before halftime to extend the Bulldogs lead. Conversion successful. Bulldogs 20-4.

HALF TIME: THe Bulldogs hold a comofrtable lead but the Sharks mistakes have made the Bulldogs look better than the scoreline suggests. Bulldogs 20-4.

42nd min: TRY - Sharks. Cronulla have started the second half in fine style with a try to David Peachey off a grubber kick from Brett Kimmorley. Conversion successful. Bulldogs 20-10.

47th min: TRY - Sharks. Rookie Roy Friend gets his first ever try in first grade and the Bulldogs are starting to struggle. Conversion unsuccessful. Bulldogs 20-14.

60th min: Still no change in the scoreline as the Sharks continue to give the Dogs defence headaches. Poor options by the Sharks are the only thing that have kept the Sharks from scoring.

63rd min: PENALTY GOAL - Bulldogs. Hazem El Masri extends the Dogs lead out to eight but the Dogs are not playing to their potential. Bulldogs 22-14.

67th min: TRY - Bulldogs. El Masri scores and the Dogs have won the game but there must be a few concerns over their form leading into the semi finals and with a first up match against the Warriors, the Dogs will have to be on their game. Conversion successful. Bulldogs 28-14.

FULL TIME: A hard fought win to the Bulldogs and they will have their hands full against the New Zealand Warriors next weekend. Cronulla played well but again their lack of discipline has cost them any chance of springing the upset this evening.