The Canterbury Bulldogs have kept themselves out of the wooden spoon battle following an impressive 27-26 win over the New Zealand Warriors at ANZ Stadium.
The Warriors came into the match looking to secure their spot in the top 8 with two rounds to play and a bottom of the table Bulldogs side was the perfect opportunity to get a confidence boosting win ahead of two tough matches to finish the season.
The Warriors were able to build pressure on the Bulldogs early on with mounting possession and territory coming the Warriors way with some classy play and the inability of the Bulldogs to get the ball down the other end of the field. The Warriors were able to use repeat sets on the Bulldogs line to finally get their opening points after 15 minutes when Shaun Johnson left the Bulldogs defenders at a stand-still before a good inside ball put Gerard Beale through to score the opening try.
The Bulldogs managed to wrangle back the momentum and it was a good play by Lachlan Lewis that set up the Bulldogs first try of the afternoon. Like Johnson, the Warriors were able to draw in the Warriors defence by running into the line before a good ball to a charging Elliott saw the second rower have too much strength and slam the ball down. The Bulldogs were able to continue their momentum when they added a second try after some good dummy half work from Michael Lichaa. The Bulldogs hooker came backwards from the ruck before showing the ball to Josh Jackson before turning it inside to Reimis Smith who had too much strength for the Warriors defence at close range.
The Warriors were again able to gain some momentum off the back of repeat sets when Isaiah Papalii drew in the Bulldogs defence and kept the ball out and was able to throw a one-handed offload to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck who had a wide open tryline to score his first of the afternoon.
Momentum began to swing again for the Bulldogs who put themselves back in the lead after getting a lucky penalty after referee Jon Stone ruled that Blake Green had picked up a ball in an offside position after ruling RTS knocked the ball forward despite replays showing that it was a Bulldogs hand that tapped the ball towards Blake Green. The Bulldogs extended their lead out to beyond a converted try when Kerrod Holland raced through the middle of the field before finding Will Hopoate who turned the ball to Lachlan Lewis to score under the posts. Following the conversion from Rhyse Martin the Bulldogs took an unlikely 20-12 lead into the half time break.
The second half was a topsy turvy affair with both sides going tit for tat in the try scoring. The Warriors opened the second half scoring through David Fusitua who was able to get on the outside of the Morris brothers and despite a desperate effort to push the Fus into touch, the try was scored.
It wasn't long before the Bulldogs hit back when the Morris brothers combined beautifully when Brett Morris was able to get himself in between two Warriors defenders and tap back a pinpoint Lachlan Lewis kick to brother Josh who scored and extended the Bulldogs lead. The rapid rate of try scoring continued when this time it was the Warriors who scored again and it was David Fusitua again who pushed the Warriors back into the reach of the Bulldogs when yet again he was able to get on the outside of the Morris brothers after some good work from Shaun Johnson.
The Warriors were able to create a grandstand finish with just under five minutes to play when Peta Hiku hovered around the ruck and was able to get on the end of an Adam Blair offload after Blair was able to use his strength to get over the line and still able to get the offload away to put Hiku into score. Shaun Johnson levelled the scores up with the conversion from close range at 26 all.
The Bulldogs were able to get into field goal position first but it took a special effort from Lachlan Lewis to get the field goal through the posts. The shot came from 35m out and 25m to the left of the posts. The strike from Lewis was absolutely perfect with the ball just getting over the crossbar and giving the Bulldogs a well deserved win.
Next weekend, the Bulldogs are travelling to Kogarah to take on the St George Illawarra Dragons on Sunday afternoon, whilst the Warriors will take on the out of sorts Panthers side at Mt Smart Stadium on Friday night.