Full Time
7:50pm Thu May 23, 2024
Round 12 - Accor Stadium, Sydney Olympic Park / Wanngal - Crowd: 15442

Match Overview

The first game of the Indigenous Round has been a night out for the Bulldogs as they found their legs for a destructive second half over the Dragons, victorious 44-12 at Accor Stadium tonight.

The first half saw a fairly even contest, with some strong performances from Jack De Belin and Jacob Liddle. Off the back of some penalties against the Dogs and errors with ball control, Jack De Belin's barnstorming run set up Mosese Suli to go over the line. 

Instead of backing down, this got the Bulldogs fired up. After an error and a six-again, Toby Sexton chipped a nice ball through after seeing Tyrell Sloan out of place, a big mobile Matt Burton going over with millimetres to spare on the dead ball line.

Another run of errors around the 30-minute mark by the Bulldogs gave the Dragons too much ball, and Jacob Liddle was rewarded for his hard work in the middle when he rushed through broken defence at the 32-minute mark.

The end of the opening half was marred by a nasty ankle injury to Jack Bird, rolling it trying to tackle. He was driven off on the stretcher after play had been stopped for some time.

Although fairly even at halftime across the board, it was the missed tackle count of the Bulldogs that would have been a worry for coach Cameron Ciraldo. At fifteen to three it was lopsided and something Dragons coach Shane Flanagan would have been ready to take advantage of, if it wasn't for the turnaround to come. Ultimately, St George Illawarra held a 12-6 advantage with the two sides in the sheds.

Ciraldo released the hounds and created havoc in the second half, with his players going over within the first five minutes after the resumption. A relentless out-of-the-gate approach pinned the Dragons early with a line dropout. A quick through-the-hands move finished off with Jaeman Salmon landing a four-pointer.

The Dragons' fire seemed to be fizzing out, and after a penalty for taking a tackle too far, Jaeman Salmon ran over for his second try in the 53rd minute. The Dogs were in a fever, the Dragons made more errors, and after a scrum at the Dragons' 20m from a Zac Lomax knock-on, Jacob Kiraz went over for a try at minute 57.

Stephen Crichton had seen some opportunities open up without Jack Bird on the defensive line and was keen to exploit it and kept calling the attack his way. Only a few minutes later, Jack De Belin knocked on in the Dragons' quarter, and the Bulldogs made them pay with Jacob Preston falling over soft Red V defence.

It was shaping up to be quite the turnaround by the Dogs, and everything was going their way. After some broken play and a Bronson Xerri break down the Bulldogs' left side, Zac Lomax found himself 10 minutes in the bin for a professional foul in holding back a player following some analysis by the bunker. 

Oddly, down to 12 men, the Bulldogs showed some brief mercy and only took the two points slotted by Burton at the 62nd minute.

The Bulldogs were running downhill, and with some fresh legs in the form of Jake Turpin on the ground, they continued to maul the Dragons through the middle. Front rower Max King demanded respect and attention, having a solid session. As were Josh Curran, and Viliame Kikau.

The 70th minute saw some slick work with an early kick in the set from Connor Tracy being taken up by a speedy Stephen Crichton.

A tired and frazzled Dragons side was limping through the game's back-end while the Dogs were in a feeding frenzy. Not content, the hosts kept the pressure up, and Jacob Kiraz finished off the evening by flying through the air in the south-west corner of the stadium, landing his second try and a dominating performance from his side. The Bulldogs eventually put on 34 unanswered points in the second half to completely outclass the St George club.

With a final score of 44-12, it was a demolition by the Canterbury team; and a bad night out for the Dragons, who will be counting the cost after losing Jack Bird and Hame Sale to injury. Their best effort came through Jack de Belin and Jacob Liddle in the first half, but it all fell apart in the second. The Bulldogs turned around all the stats from the first half with a dominating performance across the board. The resulting high completion rate and momentum it created was an impressive turnaround.

Canterbury stepped up as a team, with big performances from the forward pack and players like Curran, King and Kikau. Kiraz ran over 220 meters and got a double for his trouble, while Burton had a performance that left the NSW selectors salivating.

3. Matt Burton

2. Josh Curran

1. Jacob Kiraz