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The Canterbury Bulldogs have scored too late tries to defeat the North Queensland Cowboys 36-16 at the Sydney Showground today.
The score line however doesn?t do justice to the Cowboys who were still a chance with 10 minutes to go.
The Cowboys came out of the blocks with their forwards steaming onto the ball and setting up play just wide of the ruck. A try in the 4th minute to forward Aaron Payne saw the North Queenslanders jump to a 6-0 lead.
The Cowboys continued to dominate the ruck until Bulldogs forward Sonny Bill Williams came on in the 20th minute, scoring with his first touch of the ball and creating havoc for the Cowboys? defence.
Tries to Bulldogs skipper Steven Price and centre Jamaal Lolesi saw the home side take control of proceedings before the Cowboys struck back through Paul Rahhihi.
At half time, the Bulldogs held an 18-12 lead.
The second half began with an injury to try scorer Lolesi who went down with what looked a damaged ankle, and was assisted from the field by medi-cab. But this didn?t unsettle the Bulldogs, scoring five minutes later to grab a handy 24-12 lead.
With some sparkling movements from both sides entertaining the crowd, the score board remained unchanged until the 69th minute when Cowboys? winger Ty Williams scored in the corner. With his side just eight points down, Josh Hannay lined up a difficult conversion attempt only to see the ball hit the uprights and bounce away.
The Cowboys remained competitive before the Bulldogs ran in two late tries in the 78th and 79th minutes, blowing out the score line and posting what was in reality, a hard fought victory.
The win sees the Bulldogs go to the top of the League ladder and now an odds-on chance to snare the minor premiership.
BULLDOGS 36 Tries: SB Williams, Price, Lolesi, Patten, Scott, Utai Goals: El Masri 6/6 defeated COWBOYS 16 Tries: Payne, Rauhihi, T Williams Goals: Hannay 2/3
Sydney Showground, Crowd: 10,988 Referee: Paul Simpkins Video Referee: Chris Ward Touch Judges: Allen Foster, Russell Turner
By the clock: 0 min: Great day at the Sydney Showground. The Cowboys in form but a big task ahead against a professional looking Bulldogs outfit.
Braith Anasta (Bulldogs) kicks off!
4 min: TRY - Cowboys. Aaron Payne goes through a gap up the middle of the ruck and scores under the posts. Follows an error from Luke Patten (Bulldogs) and some excellent hit up work from the Cowboys. Conversion Josh Hannay. Cowboys 6-0
12 min: NEWS - A penalty against the Cowboys for offside plus a couple of poor last tackle options. But so far, the North Queenslanders are firing on all cylinders and the Bulldogs will have their work cut out for them today.
20 min: TRY - Bulldogs. Sonny Bill Williams comes onto the field, leaps into the air to take a bomb and score under the posts with his first touch. Conversion no problem for Hazem El Masri. 6-all
23 min: TRY - Bulldogs. Steve Price pushes his way over the line with several players hanging off him. A big turnaround as the Cowboys were well in control just minutes ago. Wide conversion from El Masri successful. Bulldogs 12-6
32 min: TRY - Bulldogs Jamaal Lolesi scores following a magic pass from Sonny Bill Williams. Cowboys were on the attack with a last tackle bomb being defused by the Bulldogs who then got a roll on. End-to-end stuff with both sides entertaining the crowd. Conversion El Masri. Bulldogs 18-6
36 min: TRY - Cowboys. Paul Rauhihi crashes over after Nathan Fien takes a quick tap following a penalty right in front. Conversion Hannay. Bulldogs 18-12
HALF TIME SUMMARY: A terrific game of football with the score line giving a fair indication of the state of play. The Cowboys dominating proceedings early on and it was only the introduction of Sonny Bill Williams in the 20th minute which saw the Bulldogs take control and score back-to-back tries. A solid effort from both sides and the game is there for the taking. Bulldogs 18-12
Second half underway...
45 min: NEWS - Jamaal Lolesi (Bulldogs) has gone down with an ankle injury and looks like he'll take no further part with medi-cab being called. An open start from both sides in the second half.
49 min: TRY - Bulldogs. Luke Patten scores 5m in from touch. Follows a bust from Sonny Bill Williams. Bulldogs looking the goods now. Wide conversion from El Masri is a ripper. Bulldogs 24-12
62 min: NEWS - Still no change to score as the Cowboys come close to scoring. Aaron Payne losing possession just short of the line.
65 min: NEWS - Still 24-12 to the Bulldogs. Cowboys applying the pressure until Steve Southern, steaming onto a Nathan Fien pass, knocks on. Possibly their last chance to make an impression on the scoreline.
66 min: NEWS - Field goal attempt from Bulldogs misses.
69 min: TRY - Cowboys. Ty Williams scores in the corner after surviving video ref scrutiny. Hannay attempts an important conversion from the sideline but it hits the upright and is waved away! Bulldogs 24-16
73 min: NO TRY - Bulldogs denied by video ref after ball is goes loose. Still a slim hope for the Cowboys but time is running out.
76 min: NEWS - Last throw of the dice for the Cowboys as Paul Rauhihi busts through but throws a desperation pass which is intercepted by a defender.
78 min: TRY - Bulldogs. Dennis Scott scores next to posts. Follows a chip kick from Nathan Fien in his own half, Scott plucking it out of the air and running 35m to score. Conversion El Masri. Bulldogs 30-16
79 min: TRY - Bulldogs. Matt Utai goes himself and runs away to score a tremendous solo try, rubbing salt into the wounds of the Cowboys. Conversion El Masri. Bulldogs 36-16
FULL TIME SUMMARY: The final score line not really indicative of the match with the Bulldogs scoring two late tries. The Cowboys were always going to battle against the class of Canterbury but held their own for much of the game. Standouts for the Cowboys include Paul Rauhihi who once again put in a sensational effort up the front. For the Bulldogs, Sonny Bill Williams stamped his authority on the match, coming on in the 20th minute to turn the match around. The entire Bulldogs pack defended solidly and were consistently looking for work.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - SB Williams (Bulldogs) 2 - S Price (Bulldogs) 1 - M O'Meley (Bulldogs) -----------------------------------------