TURBULENT TIGERS | Wests Tigers' 2016 season was... interesting.
From the demotion and eventual dep...
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Not even Willie Mason himself could have dreamed up a homecoming quite like this as the former Bulldog returned to devastate his old club in the Sydney Roosters' 40-12 NRL annihilation at ANZ Stadium tonight.
Having talked the talk Mason walked the walk, pulverising the Bulldogs with a tryscoring double in a display of power the likes of which only he can produce, the boos which accompanied his every move silenced before the halftime break.
"I knew if everybody played to their ability I knew we would win convincingly," Mason told the Nine Network.
"We did not expect something like this but the boys played really well tonight. I'm very happy with the win."
The Bulldogs faithful - part of a record crowd of 36,526 for a Sydney NRL game - couldn't bear it any longer as they streamed for the exit gates on the hour with Mason benched and the Roosters up 30-0.
If Mason was the hammer which pulverised the Bulldogs, another former Dog in Braith Anasta was the dagger.
His pinpoint kicking game mesmerised the home side, wingers Hazem El Masri and Heka Nanai likely to have recurring nightmares with visions of Anasta bombs raining down on them.
Amos Roberts, Mitchell Pearce, Craig Fitzgibbon and Seitamata Sa all scored on the back of Anasta kicks which were either fumbled or simply let go, a shellshocked Bulldogs side unable to stem the tide until Ben Roberts went over in the 61st minute.
Roberts should have opened the scoring after 11 minutes, only for Mason to give an indication that this would be his night by stripping the ball from his grasp as the Bulldogs pivot reached out for the line.
The anticipated fireworks between Mason and Sonny Bill Williams failed to eventuate, though it was not for lack of effort on the Bulldog's part with the Kiwi hitman one of the home side's best with every touch posing a threat.
Every Bulldogs fan's worst nightmare came to fruition when Mason charged onto a short Craig Fitzgibbon ball in the 19th minute to score next to the posts, the Test backrower taking the time to savour the moment with a long look in the direction of a Bulldogs contingent in the crowd.
Roberts and Pearce four-pointers gave the Roosters a commanding 20-0 lead at the break, Mason making sure there would be no comeback as he powered over from close range seven minutes after the restart.
The final half hour was more a procession than battle as both sides traded tries at regular intervals, Mason and Williams embracing after the final hooter to suggest rumours of a falling out between the pair may have been off the mark.