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The Bulldogs have played out a magnificent spectacle against the Tigers, claiming a 22-20 victory today at ANZ Stadium in Homebush.
Entertaining, absorbing, thrilling and jaw-dropping are all words that could be used to describe a fantastic clash between the Bulldogs and the Tigers this afternoon, where both Michael Ennis and Robbie Farah played the house down.
The Bulldogs decided to focus on strong defense with their forwards which was evident early on as the Tigers struggled to gain any ground. The Bankstown boys were quick to find themselves some points with Hazem El Masri diving over in just the 5th minute, though Tigers fans may have had a point to argue after it appeared that Jamaal Idris had lost the ball forward.
Their faith was soon repaid when stand-in five-eighth Tim Moltzen found himself in a yawning gap in the 16th minute to level the scores at 4-all. Tim Moltzen's score appeared to give the Tigers confidence without their talismanic Benji Marshall being present but they were soon under heavy fire from a hungry Bulldogs pack.
This didn't mortally wound the Tigers though as they finally showed some of their trademark flair. John Morris cleverely jinked from dummyhalf and fed Chris Lawrence on the outside. Lawrence eventually found support from Beau Ryan who steamed ahead to level the game at the main break with a Shannon Gallant conversion to follow.
Both teams came out firing after the main break and it was evident from the kickoff that there was exciting, expansive footy to be played. Brett Kimmorley tried spreading the ball wide from the kickoff but it backfired badly and the Tigers found themselves in front for the first time in the match with Todd Payten scoring an unconverted try from a Robbie Farah pass.
At 14-10 it looked as though the Bulldogs might have been losing their rhythm but a Brett Kimmorley grubber kick found Michael Ennis to put the Bulldogs back into the lead at 16-14 after a Hazem El Masri conversion.
The Tigers grew tired of what could be labelled 'unlucky' calls from the referee but they were soon breathing a sigh of relief when Shannon Gallant booted a penatly goal to tie up the match at 16-all heading into the last quarter.
The two NSW hooker hopefuls then became even more heavily involved in the thrilling finale but it was Michael Ennis who fired his shot with a grubber kick finding Bryson Goodwin to break the deadlock.
The Tigers then threw everything they had at the Bulldogs and Robbie Farah replied to his opponent's challenge with a grubber kick of his own to send Beau Ryan in for his second try. Shannon Gallant missed a crucial conversion and it was all left for the Tigers to try to steal the match as they trailed by 2 points with under 10 minutes remaining.
To the Tigers credit they did eventually find themselves in positions to put more points on the board but poor decision-making from Rhys Hanbury saw them lose their chance and ultimately, the match.
Match Details Canterbury Bulldogs 22 def Wests Tigers 20 Round 8 - Sunday: May 3rd, 2009 3:00pm Venue: ANZ Stadium, Homebush Referee: Jarred Maxwell, Tony De Las Heras Touch Judges: Jeff Younis, Gerard Sutton Video Ref: Paul Simpkins Crowd: 25,622 Half time: 10 all
Canterbury Bulldogs 22 Tries: Hazem El Masri (2), Michael Ennis, Bryson Goodwin Goals: Hazem El Masri (3/4) Wests Tigers 20 Tries: Tim Moltzen, Beau Ryan (2), Todd Payten Goals: Tim Moltzen (0/1), Shannon Gallant (2/4)
BULLDOGS: 1. Luke Patten 2. Hazem El Masri 3. Daryl Millard 4. Jamal Idris 5. Bryson Goodwin 6. Ben Roberts 7. Brett Kimmorley 8. Ben Hannant 9. Michael Ennis 10. Michael Hodgson 11. Greg Eastwood 12. Andrew Ryan (c) 13. David Stagg Interchange: 15. Chris Armit 16. Gary Warburton 17. Yileen Gordon 19. Jarrad Hickey TIGERS: 14. Shannon Gallant 2. Taniela Tuiaki 3. Dean Collis 4. Chris Lawrence 5. Beau Ryan 1. Tim Moltzen 6. John Morris 8. Bryce Gibbs 9. Robbie Farah (c) 10. Keith Galloway 11. Gareth Ellis 12. Chris Heighington 13. Todd Payten Interchange: 15. Dene Halatau 16. Danny Galea 17. Corey Payne 18. Rhys Hanbury
Our last match of the weekend brings us to ANZ Stadium in Sydney. The Bulldogs will be facing a Tigers team without Benji Marshall who produced some fantastic plays last week in his side's 26-24 defeat of the Knights. Can the Tigers back up without him? Or will it be a Dog of an afternoon for the Tigers? It's Dog versus Cat. We'll bring you all the action and updates in just under 15 minutes.
Both teams running out onto the ground now. Good conditions and surface for what will hopefully be an expansive game.
The kickoff is made and not taken cleanly by the Tigers but they eventually find some composure to begin their set.
1st min: John Morris kicks on the last but it finds Hazem El Masri on the full and he's taken that quite easily. Good start here for the Bulldogs.
3rd min: Tigers play it on their 30 metre line but Keith Galloway loses it forward and the Bulldogs recover it. They're in great field position for attack now.
5th min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Brett Kimmorley kicks it across field and down it comes with Idris! It's bouncing around and El Masri's got it! The video referee has awarded it albeit controversially. It looked like Idris had lost it forward. Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri unsuccessful. Canterbury Bulldogs 4-0
11th min: Penalty awarded to the Bulldogs after the Tigers slowed the ball down. Bryce Gibbs gave away the penalty and his team will be under more pressure now.
12th min: Ben Roberts kicks across field again to El Masri's wing and again it comes down with Jamaal Idris. He flicks it backwards! But El Masri has no space to use the ball and goes into touch.
15th min: Bryce Gibbs makes up for his earlier effort with a big tackle and the Bulldogs have lost it! Penalty to the Tigers now after a Bulldog indiscretion.
16th min: TRY Wests Tigers The Tigers use it wide and Robbie Farah gets tackled by Jamaal Idris but flicks it inside to the gap he's made! Tim Moltzen is there! He cuts through the gap and scores! Conversion attempt by Tim Moltzen unsuccessful. 4 all
18th min: Ben Roberts gets a penalty against the Tigers after a play-the-ball was believed to be tampered with. Bulldogs in good field position now. Ben Roberts kicks ahead and Shannon Gallant is caught in his in-goal again! Another set for the Bulldogs here.
20th min: Keith Galloway breaks through and loses the ball! The Bulldogs will have a scrum 8 metres from the halfway line. More controversy here after it looks as though Michael Ennis knocked it out of his grasp.
21st min: Ben Roberts takes the pressure off the Tigers by losing it forward. Justice possibly?
24th min: Farah grubbers 30 metres out from the Bulldogs line. Great chase from Tuiaki! He's kept it alive! And it's intercepted by the Bulldogs!
25th min: Shannon Gallant jumps high for the ball but knocks it dead! Another defensive set for the Tigers here. They're leading the line dropout count 3-0.
26th min: Kimmorley switches it to his left and the ball eventually finds Ennis! He's held up by Robbie Farah. So close!
27th min: The ball is spread wide here and Tuiaki tries to intercept it! He misses it! El Masri gets it and dives in for his second! We'll have to go upstairs and check for obstruction.
28th min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Try awarded to El Masri even though it looks like Chris Lawrence was taken out by David Stagg. The Tigers can consider themselves unlucky. Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 10-4
30th min: Third tackle here for the Tigers and they're barely out of their own quarter. Huge defensive effort from the Bulldogs.
32nd min: Brett Kimmorley dummies to his left and backs himself! Oh wonderful! Off he goes! He's got Idris with him who feeds it inside to Patten. Patten to Stagg and Eastwood then finds Goodwin! In he goes! We'll go upstairs to check it but that's wonderful attacking footy from the Bulldogs!
33rd min: No try. Unlucky for the Bulldogs this time because that was really wonderful to watch. Ellis was impeded.
35th min: TRY Wests Tigers The Tigers need a reply here because they're doing it tough out there with some of these calls this afternoon. John Morris feeds it to Chris Lawrence who finds Beau Ryan! He sprints up his wing! He's storming away! What a run! Try! Wonderful reply! Conversion attempt by Shannon Gallant successful. 10 all
Halftime at ANZ Stadium in Sydney where it's 10-all. Both sides are really digging into each other with the Tigers being able to hold on after some tough calls against them. It's been an entertaining spetacle with the Tigers still showing some flair without their talisman, Benji Marshall. It's a tight match and we'll see you in a few minutes.
41st min: The Tigers kickoff and Kimmorley spreads it wide and the Bulldogs lose it! On no! Terrible start to the secondhalf as the Tigers come up with it inside the Bulldogs' 20.
42nd min: TRY Wests Tigers Robbie Farah draws his man and finds big Todd Payten! He's going to go in quite easily here and the Tigers have taken the lead and full advantage of a silly mistake from the Bulldogs! Conversion attempt by Shannon Gallant unsuccessful. Wests Tigers 14-10
46th min: Taniela Tuiaki gets some space and bursts downfield! But it's called back for a forward pass.
47th min: Penalty ruled against the Tigers after a high tackle and the Bulldogs will have another crack at the Tigers line.
49th min: Pressure here on the Tigers. Kimmorley stabs a kick in and diving on it is the stand in five-eighth Tim Moltzen. Poor end to the set for the Bulldogs.
50th min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Kimmorley again tries a grubber! This one sits up beautifully! Michael Ennis chases and scores! Pin-point accuracy from the Bulldogs halfback and hooker! Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 16-14
51st min: Robbie Farah grubbers ahead to the in-goal. El Masri gets it but he's caught by 3 defenders. The Tigers will get another set here from a drop-out.
53rd min: Keith Galloway loses it and appeals for a penalty against Jarrad Hickey but Tony De Las Heras is having nothing of it. Controversy here again as it looks like Jarrad Hickey made no effort to get out of the play-the-ball.
55th min: Chipped ahead by Morris! The Tigers chase but it finds Patten! He sprints away and finds Idris! He's caught though and loses the ball forward and into touch! End to end stuff here!
59th min: PENALTY GOAL Wests Tigers Shannon Gallant knocks it between the posts and we're all tied up here. 16 all
67th min: The Tigers have to kick from deep inside their own half and it flies between El Masri's legs. Good defensive set there but a return from El Masri.
69th min: Robbie Farah finds Tim Moltzen and he tries a little razzle-dazzle with his backs. It's kicked again by Robbie Farah and caught by Hazem El Masri. The Bulldogs counter here and kick it into the Tigers in-goal area but Shannon Gallant wrestles his way out and saves his team from conceding another drop-out.
71st min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Luke Patten finds a hole in the Tigers defense. Woosh! Away he goes! He's tackled though then it's spread wide! More expansive footy! Michael Ennis then gets it and grubbers! Bryson Goodwin grabs it and slides in! Wonderful kick from Ennis! The two hookers are really putting it on today but Ennis has made a play to give his team back the lead here. Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 22-16
72nd min: Again the Bulldogs lose the ball from the kickoff! David Stagg the culprit and the Tigers have to hit back here! Can they come up with something?
75th min: TRY Wests Tigers The Tigers need something here and Robbie Farah steps up! The Tigers skipper kicks for his winger in Beau Ryan! Beautiful play here! The two hookers are really turning it on as Gallant misses a pressure kick out wide. Conversion attempt by Shannon Gallant unsuccessful. Canterbury Bulldogs 22-20
76th min: Hanbury finds himself in space! He's got three men on the inside but he backs himself! Has he butchered it? Crosskick here for Beau Ryan! Shannon Gallant gets it and loses it! Two chances lost there!
80th min: The Tigers will have one more chance here as they run it back. Collis spreads it wide and the Tigers chip it ahead! Luke Patten's back there and he loses it backwards! He dives on it! And that should be the Fat Lady singing! The fulltime siren goes and that's it. Wonderful game of footy!
Fulltime at ANZ Stadium and we've witnessed an absolutely fantastic display. A wonderful game of Rugby League has seen the Bulldogs sneak home by 22-20 over a tough Tigers team. It was tight to the finish and no side ever held more than a 6 point advantage. The two men vying for a NSW 9 jumper, Robbie Farah and Michael Ennis, played the house down. A monumental effort from both sides, but as it is said time and time again: there can only be one winner. Thankyou for joining us and we hope you enjoy the rest of your long weekend.