The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have embraced an attacking style of football to see themselves score an upset win over the St George Illawarra Dragons, beating the joint venture by a score of 18 points to 16 on Sunday Afternoon.
The Bulldogs did well to hold out an early attacking raid as the Dragons were gifted good field position from a penalty. As soon as they got the ball for the first time in the 4th minute, they made their intentions clear. By throwing the ball around from sideline to sideline, the Bulldogs got themselves on the front foot, and took full advantage when Josh Reynolds sprinted down a short-side before putting Corey Waddell into space.
The big back-rower reached deep into his bag of tricks when he saw the green grass ahead of him, putting the ball onto the toe for a grubber, which he re-gathered over the line to open the scoring.
The Bulldogs would be the dominant side for the next 15 minutes or so and looked poised to cash in when an early kick from Josh Reynolds forced a dropout. The ensuing set would lead to a try, but it was scored by a man wearing a red-v instead of a blue one.
An errant Tevita Pangai offload was picked off by Lomax, who ran for 50 odd metres before throwing a perfect right-to-left cutout pass on the run to Mat Feagai, who won the race to the try-line, making the score 6-4 in favour of the visitors.
While the scoreboard may have told a story of a closely fought encounter, the play on the field was anything but, the Bulldogs butchering multiple try scoring opportunities. On one occasion, Burton went straight through the line before linking up with Mahoney on the inside. He then threw a ball back inside to Burton who was in the clear, but he dropped the ball cold.
On another, Burton, Mahoney and Reynolds combined for a slick outside inside play, only for the ball to be put down by the latter.
After looking likely on so many attacking sets, it was a yardage carry that would ignite for the Dogs to score their second. The ball was thrown wide to find Jake Averillo inside his own 20 metre zone when the centre turned on the jets to get around the Dragons frontline defenders and then, impressively, burn Dragons fullback Tyrell Sloan on his way to the line.
That's where the scoring would end in the first half, the Bulldogs enjoying a six-point cushion ahead of the second 40.
Canterbury appeared to pick up right where they left off, rolling down the field with ease early in the second half which allowed Burton plenty of time to put up a signature bomb. The Dragons wanted nothing to do with it, which ended up working in their favour as Braidon Burns' second kick sailed dead to give the Dragons 7 tackles.
It proved a fatal error from Burns, with Ben Hunt staying upright long enough to get an offload away to Toby Couchman at the other end, the young forward going over for his first career try to even things up again.
Couchman went from hero to zero shortly after though, penalised for a high shot on Preston which allowed the Bulldogs to take the lead right back through a penalty goal.
Five minutes later, the Dogs would streak even further ahead, with Jake Averillo receiving the ball in his own half and again making something out of nothing, speeding his way past Feagai and again burning Sloan to touch down for his second impressive try.
The score was 18-10 to Canterbury and the Dragons were out on their feet, but they received a second wind when Corey Waddell was sent to the sin bin for a professional foul in the 59th minute.
They were quick to take advantage, spreading the ball right to Max Feagai, who joined his brother on the score sheet after going over in the corner. Lomax's conversion was good, narrowing the gap to two points with 62 minutes to go.
The Dragons would go close on multiple occasions but in the end couldn't do enough to crack the Bulldogs, who won the game thanks in equal parts to their attack and defence.
It's Magic Round at Suncorp next week, the Bulldogs will open things up on Friday at 6 o'clock against the Raiders, while the Dragons are back on Sunday afternoon against the Tigers.