FIRE DOUSED | After returning to finals action in 2015, the St George-Illawarra Dragons struggled un...
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They're renowned as the most fervent of rugby league fans, but when the chips were down on Saturday night, the Bulldog Army deserted like rats.
The New Zealand Warriors were only halfway through a mid second-half blitz of five tries in 15 minutes when the army ? who have been involved in some ugly scenes in recent weeks ? decided to find entertainment elsewhere.
There was still a quarter of the match to go but the rush for the turnstiles was such they had to queue, with their backs to the game, to exit.
The army's section of the Sydney Showgrounds was inhabited by a few lonely souls by game end, while there were plenty of empty seats in other parts of the ground that an hour earlier had been occupied by flag-waving blue and white supporters.
It had been very different then. Loud cheering echoed around the concrete amphitheatre when the Bulldogs took the field, while a crescendo of boos greeted the Warriors.
Referee Bill Harrigan was also booed and had his parentage questioned.
"Forward pass" chants greeted every Warriors pass, while they were never back 10 metres on defence ? as the locals had it, anyway.
Harrigan showed quick reactions, fending off with an arm what appeared to be a plastic bottle tossed at him as he left the field at halftime.
In the second half, it was the Warriors' supporters, who perhaps made up only a tenth of the 18,312 attendance, who overtook their rivals in the decibel competition. They were jubilant. The Bulldogs fans who saw it out to the bitter end were silent, dejected at a 48-22 loss and their NRL finals campaign in trouble.