The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs travelled to Kogarah to try and continue their positive form despite a loss against the Storm last week, but fumbled their way to a 40-4 loss at the hands of a red-hot St. George-Illawarra side lead by a clinical effort by Ben Hunt.
The opening 15 minutes of the game were classic Sunday afternoon footy. Solid running from both teams. The first mini-chance came from the Bulldogs after a mini-break from Jeremy Marshall-King. They were ultimately let down by a poor kick from Lachlan Lewis, however.
It was that man again, Lewis, who dropped the ball cold, giving the Dragons the ball and a real chance to attack. Euan Aitken ended up diving over the line in an easy finish after some good passing down the right, started by Ben Hunt.
Two sets later Corey Harawira-Naera went close for the Bulldogs, following what looked like a dropped bomb from Jordan Pereira, but the Bunker decision was negative after Will Hopoate was deemed to have touched it first.
Silly penalties were hurting the Bulldogs and their third one would hand Lafai a penalty goal and the Dragons an 8-0 lead.
The Dragons were using the breeze well with solid running, including a powerful effort from James Graham, ploughing over his old team-mates.
The Bulldogs had their chances after a couple of quick penalties in their favour, but a one-on-one strip from Ben Hunt on Rhyse Martin saw him run 40 metres down the field before Norman set up Tim Lafai for a 4-pointer at the 30-minute mark.
Just five minutes later, the Dragons would go over again, following another error from Lachlan Lewis in his own half. Mikaele Ravalawa waltzed his way down the sideline around a number of Bulldog defenders. A curling conversion from Lafai gave the home team an 18-0 lead at the break.
It was going to take a big effort for the Bulldogs to bounce back but dropped balls were putting them constantly under pressure, starting with a shocker from Jayden Okunbor in the 3rd minute after half-time.
Ravalawa thought he'd had his second just minutes later, but the final pass from Dufty was ruled to have gone forward. At the other, the Bulldogs had a chance after Okunbor (slightly) redeemed himself with an intercept in Dragons' territory, but an unlucky bounce in-goal went against Meaney, who was running through.
Other Bulldogs were having problems too, with Reimis Smith dropping it cold, leading to an easy try from the ensuing scrum. Jordan Pereira added to his tally for the year to put the Dragons up 22-0.
Just a few minutes later and a pushed pass from Kerrod Holland went to ground and all Hunt had to do was pick it up and dive over for the easiest try you'll see!
The Bulldogs were desperate to take something away from Kogarah, but when Rhyse Martin was rolled over and held up in goal, it looked like they might be kept to zero. Further salt was rubbed into the would as Zac Lomax, having just run onto the field, was on hand after another drop-ball from Okunbor lead to him being handed a try from Ben Hunt.
Just three minutes from full-time and the Bulldogs finally got some points on the board, thanks to a good offload from Chris Smith to Cogger, to Hopoate and to another Smith, this time, Reimis, who planted it down on the right wing.
By then, it was just a question of whether or not the Dragons would make 40 and they played like they really wanted it. The ball went through about seven pairs of hands, including a little pirouette from Corey Norman who flicked it to Ben Hunt to score under the posts in a well-deserved full-stop to the game.
The St.George-Illawarra Dragons deserved their victory with a dominant performance, sparked by their halfback, Ben Hunt, who has been relishing the chance to direct his team around the paddock. Solid running from Paul Vaughn (until he left the field), Tyson Frizell and James Graham laid the groundwork for the backs to run rampant.
The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs will have to go back to the drawing board with the basics after a woeful display. Their young backs were embarrassed today and the only positive to be taken was from young five-eighth Jack Cogger and a welcome contribution from fullback, Nick Meaney.
The Bulldogs will have to back it up against the Bunnies on Good Friday, whilst the Dragons will head to Wollongong for a big match-up against the Sea-Eagles next Saturday.