Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
40 hours ago
A small but very vocal crowd were greeted with a fine display of league as two of the top sides in the competition fought it out at the Sydney Showground with the Bulldogs coming out on top of the Storm by 25-18.
Both the Melbourne Storm and the Bulldogs players backing up from State of Origin last Wednesday put their bodies on the line as the two sides battled for the full 80 minutes. The big men all stepped up, Price, O'Meley and Mason for the Bulldogs. Reynoldson, Chan and Smith for the Storm all worked tirelessly for their sides.
The first half was very even with the Storm scoring first 16 minutes into the game with a try to Kidwell. Not long after the Bulldogs hit back through Ryan. A spectacular try by the Melbourne fullback Slater running the length of the field set up the visitors well, along with another try right on the break as they led at halftime by 18-8.
However the second half was one way traffic as the Bulldogs stepped up a gear scoring 17 unanswered points in the second half to keep the Storm scoreless. The Melbourne side were guilty of unforced errors handing the weight of possession to the Bulldogs. Tries in the half to Lolesi, Maitua and Mason plus a field goal to Anasta set up a great win for the home side.
BULLDOGS 25 Tries: Ryan, Lolesi, Maitua, Mason Goals: El Masri 4/5, Anasta 1/1 (FG) defeated STORM 18 Tries: Kidwell, Slater, Smith Goals: Orford 3/3
By the clock: 4 players backing up from SOO in the Bulldogs side, 2 from the Melbourne Storm. Origin referee Simpkins in charge today
0 min: Kick off!
3rd min: NEWS - Melbourne has 3 sets of six go their way, the Bulldogs defence hold very well and comes away with the ball
8th min: NEWS - Good start by both sides. The Bulldogs close to scoring, a high kick by Anasta to the in goal is taken on the full by King
13th min: NEWS - The Bulldogs seem patient, the Storm a little rattled at times, still no score
16th min: TRY - Storm. Great defence by the Storm and a good set of six to follow up. Fifth tackle option by Orford to put a little chip over the defence. Chan gathers it up busts for the line. He's tackled but gets the ball to Kidwell who scores. Orford converts. Storm 6-0
20th min: NEWS - Sherwin close to a 40/20 however Slater manages to gather the ball in just before the touch line
21st min: TRY - Bulldogs. Ryan continues where he left off last week against the Sea Eagles and score a relatively easy try after a soft tackle by Kidwell. El Masri 20 metres in, gets the conversion. 6 all
25th min: PENALTY GOAL. The Bulldogs take the lead for the first time after Smith is penalised in the ball of the ball. El Masri gets the kick. Bulldogs 8-6
29th min: TRY - Storm. A chip through by Sherwin is scooped up by Slater who runs 98 metres to score with Bulldogs defenders in hot pursuit but left in his dust. It doesn't get better than that. Orford gets a terrific conversion as it curls back in. Storm 12-8
35th min: NEWS - The crowd letting their feelings known to the ref, some decisions hard to fathom
37th min: NEWS - A penalty late in the tackle counts gives great field position to the Bulldogs. Hard hits stop the attack, and the Storm's defence holds true with Anasta knocking on over the line
39th min: TRY - Storm. Orford playing well as the Storm make ground on attack. Close to the line and Orford flicks the inside ball to Smith who drives over the line to score. Orford adds two more points. Storm 18-8
HALFTIME: A very tight contest with the Storm making the most of their opportunities.
HALFTIME STATS: Penalties: Bulldogs 5 - Storm 3 Possession: Bulldogs 54 - Storm 46 Tackles: Bulldogs 123 - Storm 147 Missed tackles: Bulldogs 15 - Storm 16 Completions: Bulldogs 14/20 - Storm 12/20 Line Breaks: Bulldogs 2 - Storm 3 Offloads: Bulldogs 3 - Storm 7 Errors: Bulldogs 9 - Storm 8
Second half underway..
43rd min: NEWS - Slater (Storm) saving two tries in the space of two minutes, the Bulldogs have come out fired up from the break
47th min: NEWS - End to end excitement as the Storm are close to scoring only to have the ball down the other end of the field.
48th min: TRY - Bulldogs. A line dropout by Orford goes out on the full handing the penalty to the Bulldogs right in front of the posts. A quick tap, the ball flicked out wide. Lolesi wrong foots the defence and scores. El Masri from the sideline kicks it low and misses. Storm 18-12
54th min: TRY - Bulldogs. A bad fifth tackle by Orford sets up the Bulldogs attack. Great hand to get Maitua over out wide. El Masri kicks a pearler to level the scores. 18 all
58th min: NEWS - Sherwin (Bulldogs) puts up a high kick on the last tackle, Slater misses it altogether. Ryan kick the ball in goal, hands from both sides all over the place, the video ref is used and deems a double knock on and a goal line dropout. The momentum of the game fully swung the Bulldogs way
60th min: NEWS - Heart in mouth stuff as the Bulldogs launch wave after wave of attack. The Storm defence outstanding. The biggest cheer of the afternoon as the ref falls over. Still locked up at 18 all
65th min: TRY - Bulldogs. After the initial break by Tonga down the sideline, play centralises and Willie Mason stretches out just enough to score the try after shrugging off 3 or 4 defenders. El Masri 20 metres in, adds the 2 points. Bulldogs 24-18
70th min: NEWS - The Storm finally get down their end of the field for the first time in this half only to have Willie Mason spoil their opportunity of scoring. Bulldogs lead 24-18
74th min: FIELD GOAL - Anasta makes the score difference 7 points on his second attempt at the field goal. With all the time in the world, he makes no mistake. Bulldogs 25-18
77th min: NEWS - Try as they might the Storm can't break through the solid defence by the Bulldogs
FULLTIME: The Bulldogs played an excellent second half to keep the Storm scoreless and win the game by 25-18
FULLTIME STATS: Penalties: Bulldogs 8 - Storm 4 Possession: Bulldogs 57% - Storm 43% Tackles: Bulldogs 232 - Storm 318 Missed tackles: Bulldogs 33 - Storm 33 Completions: Bulldogs 32/45 - Storm 22/40 Line Breaks: Bulldogs 8 - Storm 4 Offloads: Bulldogs 10 - Storm 23 Errors: Bulldogs 18 - Storm 20
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - S Price (Bulldogs) 2 - W Tonga (Bulldogs) 1 - K Reynoldson (Storm) -----------------------------------------