The Canterbury Bulldogs might be on a 10-match winning streak and atop the National Rugby League (NRL) standings but it seems their fans could not care less about seeing their club's record breaking run.
In a plea normally issued by clubs at the other end of the standings, Bulldogs captain Steve Price yesterday appealed for supporters to get behind a team who currently boast the lowest average home gate by a side leading the competition (8394) in a decade.
The Bulldogs had the bye this weekend but are hoping for a bigger crowd when they play at the Sydney Showgrounds next weekend.
Price said crowd trouble at games last year, involving a hard core of Bulldogs supporters, had affected the turnout as well as the move from their traditional home in Belmore.
"There's probably still a perception that Bulldogs games aren't safe to go to. They are. The club has worked hard to make sure everybody can go to a game with their family," Price said on the NRL website.
Troublemakers were issued with $A500 ($NZ587) instant fines after causing problems last year at Stadium Australia.
Price lamented the fact support in Wellington - where they played the New Zealand Warriors in April - outstripped what they received at home: "We want a sea of blue and white at our home games too."
The Bulldogs stayed top on 25 points, one clear of the Warriors, who comfortably beat South Sydney 46-10 on Saturday night to climb one place to second.
The Warriors head third-placed Newcastle on points differential while the Broncos stay fourth after a 52-8 10-try demolition of cellar dwellers North Queensland in Brisbane yesterday.
In yesterday's other matches the Sharks shaded Canberra 36-26 in an 11-try thriller at Toyota Park with underfire halfback Brett Kimmorley scoring twice for the winners, who overhauled a 12-18 halftime deficit.
The Roosters laid on eight tries to comfortably beat the Northern Eagles 45-18 at Aussie Stadium to stay inside the top eight.
Penrith continued their recent run of form by securing their fourth win in five matches although it took a last minute try from centre Geoff Bell to give the Panthers a 22-18 win over the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday night.
Wests had fought back from a 6-18 halftime deficit to level at 18-all inside the last five minutes but could not hang on to avoid a sixth successive loss.
St George-Illawarra and the Melbourne Storm could not break their 30-all deadlock in a dramatic clash at Win Stadium yesterday that saw the visitors play the majority of the game with only 12 men after Shane Walker was dismissed for a high shot on prop Jason Ryles during the first half.
St George have had three draws and three wins this season to leave them outside the top eight.
Parramatta's Kiwis centre David Vaealiki's comeback from a hamstring injury could be shortlived after he was placed on report for elbowing Newcastle's Danny Buderus in the face during a testy rematch of last year's grand final won by the reigning premiers 28-14 on Friday night.
Newcastle outscored the Eels four tries to two to record their first win at Parramatta Stadium since 1989.
He could be sidelined for three months.Like