Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
Who'd like to be a footy fan? Tonight at the newly named ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Bulldogs and Eels fans were treated to both the euphoria of a team on fire, and the lows of a bumbling side. The Parramatta Eels finally won the battle of a 'game of two halves' as they defeated the Bulldogs by 28-20 in front of a 25065 crowd.
A fiery start set at the frantic pace by the Bulldogs seemed to have the Eels back-pedalling from the start. Three minutes into the match, and the Bulldogs were on the scoreboard.
Hazem El Masri was causing havoc and passed yet another milestone this evening as he posted 600 points at Homebush Stadium, with his 100% kicking game netting 4/4, and also scoring an impressive try.
A halftime score of 20-0 in favour of the Bulldogs looked to have them set for the night especially with a lot of unforced errors by the Eels aiding their cause.
However, Brett Finch had other ideas for the 2nd half as he set sail like a man possessed popping up everywhere on attack and defence. In 12 minutes, the Eels led by their halfback, had narrowed the margin to two points with some fine plays.
The Bulldogs capitulated, much as the Eels did in the first 40 minutes, allowing the Eels to finally get ahead on the scoreboard and seal the victory.
A tough first up game for both sides, but some dynamic plays make it certain their fans are in for some great times.
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Brett Finch 2 Points: Mark Riddell 1 Point: Hazem El Masri
Fine sunny conditions for the first game of Super Saturday. The two rival teams looking determined as they run out on the field.
Teams are as per programme.
1 min: Kick off by the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium, Homebush
2 min: The Bulldogs let lose up the sideline as El Masri nabs a Sonny Bill offload, Patten unable to pounce on the chip through by El Masri
3 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs The ensuing line dropout seemingly easy for the Bulldogs to score. Great hands by the Dogs. Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 6-0
6 min: The Bulldogs certainly putting the pressure on the Eels defence early in the game
8 min: Roberts drops the ball close to the Bulldogs tryline, not picked up by any official. Utai, trying to offload close to the sideline sees the ball go out over the sideline
11 min: The Eels fumbling the ball at the wrong end of the park. Once again the attack strong by the Bulldogs
12 min: Possession rate favouring the Bulldogs at 61%
16 min: Finally a burst by the Eels as Burt sets sail down the field. Utai wraps him up but the Eels finish their set.
18 min: NO TRY - El Masri knock on just before the line as Patten and his troops continue to cause havoc amongst the Eels defenders
21 min: Ref Robinson orders a Parramatta scrum 20 metre out from their line after El Masri offloaded at the same time as the ref calling held
22 min: Riddell held up over the line and manage to be rewarded another scrum 2 tackles later, 15 metres out from the line
25 min: Moi Moi penalised for lifting the biggest bloke on the field, Tsoulos
26 min: PENALTY GOAL Canterbury Bulldogs 15 metres out, right in front. No mistake by the maestro Canterbury Bulldogs 8-0
29 min: Try saving tackle by Hindmarsh as the Bulldogs look good spreading the ball wide
30 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs The Eels are their own worst enemies handing the ball over early in the tackle count. No real pressure as the Dogs spread it wide to Tonga who uses his strength to score. Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 14-0
33 min: A sandwich tackle by the Bulldogs on Burt lodges the ball lose. Scrum Bulldogs, 10 metres from their line.
34 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs A lose pass by Holdsworth bounces favourably for El Masri who scoots up the sideline to score out wide. Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 20-0
35 min: El Masri reaches the milestone of scoring 600 points at the now named ANZ Stadium
36 min: A relieving penalty to the Eels fails to go out, once again putting enormous pressure on the tiring Eels defence
40 min: The first half finishing with mistakes aplenty by both sides
HALFTIME: Only one side in the match so far. Bulldogs lead 20-0
41 min: The Eels kick off the 2nd half, hoping I'm sure for a better performance
42 min: Sonny Bill favouring a knee at this stage, and keeping himself out of play
44 min: First chance for the Eels in this half, rewarded with a goal line dropout
FULLTIME: 28 unanswered points to the Eels in the 2nd half to secure the win 28-20
46 min: TRY Parramatta Eels Following the dropout, 5th tackle option by Finch. Nice kick to Grothe on the wing who outjumps Utai to score Conversion attempt by Luke Burt successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 20-6
48 min: Finch close to nailing a 40/20 however the bounce didn't favour him
50 min: TRY Parramatta Eels Nice pressure by the Eels to set up another set of attack. Finch spinning in the tackle manages to offload perfectly to Mateo who scores. Conversion attempt by Luke Burt successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 20-12
56 min: Whatever Finch had at the break is working, great on attack and defence at the moment
56 min: Video ref rules 20 metre restart after Hindmarsh and Holdsworth tussle over a little chip into the Bulldogs in goal.
58 min: TRY Parramatta Eels Another perfectly weighted kick by Finch for his outside backs is nabbed by Reddy and his black eye. Conversion attempt by Luke Burt successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 20-18
62 min: The Bulldogs finally hit back with some nice hands but once again Finch brings a halt to the attack after wrapping up Utai
65 min: Second half possession, Eels 62%, 14/15 completion rate. No wonder they've caught up since the break
67 min: Tautai smashes his opposite number, forcing the error, pumping up the Eels 35 metres out from their line
68 min: TRY Parramatta Eels The ball running freely thru the Eels hands allows Reddy to once again harass Utai outwide to score. What a comeback in the 2nd half Conversion attempt by Luke Burt unsuccessful. Parramatta Eels 22-20
73 min: The Bulldogs following the trend set in the 1st half by the Eels, unforced errors killing their attack
75 min: Inu hobbles to the sideline, doesn't look good but could be cramp
78 min: Classic finish coming up as both sides play desperation footy
79 min: Tsoulos who's played most of the game loses the ball to Finch, basically down to the last set now
80 min: TRY Parramatta Eels Finch looks to go for the field goal but ducks and dives to fool the opposition. A Bulldog player attempts the intercept but instead knocks the ball into Mateo's hands, who scores Conversion attempt by Luke Burt successful. Parramatta Eels 28-20
FULLTIME: 28 unanswered points to the Eels in the comeback of the year so far.