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The more experienced Bulldogs managed to hold out the Sharks to post a 24-12 win at ANZ Stadium this afternoon, the Bulldogs racing to an 18-0 lead which proved to be too difficult to chase down for a depleted Sharks side.
The Sharks extended their losing streak to three matches, seeming to sorely miss two of their lead playmakers, Barrett and Carney. Meanwhile the Bulldogs restored their two points which were confirmed as stripped earlier in the week.
The Sharks kept within reach of the Bulldogs until Morris put them out of their misery in the 73rd minute, extending the lead to 24-12 which remained as the final result.
From the opening whistle the Sharks seemed to lack concentration. The Bulldogs capitalised on this with Goodwin running around some poor defense from Taulapapa and scoring the first try in the fourth minute. Ennis laying on the first of three try-assists.
Just six minutes later El Masri was in for a try in the opposite corner. Andrew Ryan forced a Sharks knock-on with a good hit and the Sharks defense succumbed to the sustained pressure in front of their line. El Masri converted his own try for the second of four-from-four successful attempts.
Again repeat sets for the Bulldogs proved too much for the Sharks as an offload from Chris Armit sent Ryan over in the 22nd minute.
At 18-0 down the Sharks started to regain some intensity and claw their way back into the match.
In the 31st minute Covell tapped back a Seymour bomb and Tupou dotted down in the corner. A sideline conversion from Covell brought the scoreline to 18-6, as it remained at the break.
The Bulldogs were unlucky not to score again before the break with Eastwood dropping the ball over the line.
To make matters worse for the Sharks, Afamasaga was seriously injured with his first touch, just before the break.
The Sharks looked good after the half-time break. Gallen darted over from dummy half in the 48th minute. Covell's conversion brought the Sharks within a converted try.
This proved to be as close as they would get with video referee confirmation of Morris' try ending the Sharks' hopes. Earlier the Bulldogs were denied what seemed to be a try with no video referral forthcoming.
David Stagg put in another outstanding performance with 41 tackles and 11 hit-ups.
A difficult week for both sides ended with a Bulldogs victory in a somewhat messy match. The Sharks sorely missed the playmaking ability of Barrett in particular. The three-try run from the Bulldogs proved to be too hard to chase down.
Match Details Canterbury Bulldogs 24 def Cronulla Sharks 12 Round 4 - April 5th, 2009 2:00pm Venue: ANZ Stadium, Homebush Crowd: 15,520 Referee: Jason Robinson & Gerard Sutton Sideline Officials: Rick McFarlane & Mohamad Fajajo Video Referee: Phil Cooley Half time: Bulldogs 18-6
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
BULLDOGS: 1. Luke Patten 2. Hazem El Masri 3. Josh Morris 18. Daryl Millard 5. Bryson Goodwin 6. Ben Roberts 7. Brett Kimmorley 8. Ben Hannant 9. Michael Ennis 10. Michael Hodgson 11. Gary Warburton 12. Andrew Ryan 13. David Stagg Interchange: 14. Chris Armit 15. Greg Eastwood 16. John Kite 17. Yileen Gordon; Reserves: 19. Matt Utai
SHARKS: 1. Mitch Brown 2. Misi Taulapapa 3. Ben Pomeroy 4. Blake Ferguson 5. Luke Covell 6. Trent Barrett 7. Brett Seymour 8. Kade Snowden 9. Corey Hughes 10. Luke Douglas 11. Reece Williams 12. Anthony Tupou 13. Paul Gallen (c) Interchange: 14. Reni Maitua 15. Jack Afamasaga 16. Bryan Norrie 17. Tony Caine
TAB Sportsbet odds: Bulldogs $1.60 Sharks $2.30
Green in For Barrett, Utai on the bench in place of Kite
4 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Bryson Goodwin dots down in the corner, getting around some poor defence from Taulapapa. Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 12-0
10 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs El Masri scores in the right corner after yet another Sharks knock-on Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 18-0
22 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs A fantastic offload from Chris Armit sends Andrew Ryan over after repeat sets for the Bulldogs Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 24-0
30 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Covell taps back a Seymour bomb and Tupou scores, question mark over grounding but the try was given. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 24-6
35 min: Eastwood drops the ball over the line thanks to a tackle from Corey Hughes, seems to have hurt his shoulder
36 min: Afamasaga sustains an injury from his first hitup for the Sharks, the medicab is on to take him from the field
Bulldogs lead 18-6 at the break. The Sharks are lucky not to be down by more as they somehow saved two sure tries late in the half. The Sharks seemed to really be lacking concentration when they came out, but regained intensity as the half went on.
44 min: Penalty Sharks, Bulldogs offside
44 min: Eastwood puts in a big hit on Douglas and dislodges the ball
45 min: Stagg drops the ball, plenty of mistakes from both sides so far this half
46 min: The Sharks bomb to Covell's wing who knocks on amid claims of obstruction, Bulldogs are penalised.
48 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Gallen runs it on the 5th from dummy half and bursts over to the left of the posts Conversion attempt by Luke Covell successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 18-12
52 min: Ben Roberts comes within inches of scoring, loses it over the line. Turns out it should have been play on as he didn't knock-on after all. Definitely a case for the video-ref gone begging.
54 min: Contentious forward pass call goes against the Sharks just as the momentum was swinging their way.
55 min: The errors continue as Ennis puts a kick out on the full.
57 min: Ferguson takes a Seymour bomb but is taken to ground on the 5th tackle
58 min: The Sharks lose the ball again, gifting the Bulldogs a set from 20 out.
60 min: Bulldogs scrum 40 out from their line as the Sharks knock it out of play.
61 min: Ennis knocks on at dummy half, letting the Sharks off the hook.
62 min: Penalty Sharks, Roberts was offside, Sharks kick for touch to 10 out from the Bulldogs line.
64 min: Sharks knock on, this time the Bulldogs are off the hook.
66 min: Sharks do well to get down the other end, Hughes kicks to touch, both teams slow to form the scrum.
67 min: Williams knocks on for the Sharks, scrum 30 out from the Sharks line.
68 min: Video Ref - Kimmorley's chip-kick is tapped back to Stagg but did he ground it?
69 min: No Try - double knock-on, Bulldogs scrum.
70 min: The Bulldogs think Goodwin has scored in the corner after some great work from Ryan, pulled back for a forward pass.
72 min: Bulldogs penalty. Sharks inside the 10.
73 min: Video Ref - Josh Morris under the posts. Break from Ryan, to Patten, back to Morris. Looking at a possible Covell trip.
73 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs The try is given, Covell is put on report for the trip. Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 24-12
75 min: Scrum Bulldogs for a Covell knock-on, trying to kick down the sideline.
77 min: Sharks dropout after kicking it dead, short dropout ends up with the Bulldogs.
78 min: Ennis is held up over the line on the 5th tackle.
79 min: Eastwood puts in another big hit, this time on Hughes.
80 min: Penalty Bulldogs