Bulldogs pip Warriors in thriller

A Trent Hodkinson field goal was the only difference in the end as a determined Canterbury Bulldogs side defeated an improved New Zealand Warriors outfit 21-20 in front of 22,165 fans at Eden Park this afternoon.

After a tumultuous week off the field highlighted by the exit of Matthew Elliott and the appointment of caretaker coach Andrew McFadden, the Warriors started the game with a much improved effort on previous weeks. They showed discipline on defence and level-headedness on attack, and were rewarded within the first 10 minutes with a nice try to Sam Tomkins, aided by Ben Matulino who had been shifted to second-row and would cause havoc there for the rest of the half.

The Bulldogs stayed in the grind but conceded again through Manu Vatuvei after he latched onto a pass that went to ground. The Warriors were up 10-0 and looking well up for the scrap. The sides traded punches for much of the remainder of the half until the Bulldogs finally got on the board through Sam Perrett out wide. The Bulldogs continued to attack for the last 10 minutes of the half, with Josh Reynolds featuring heavily and often but the Warriors did enough to go to the sheds with a 10-6 advantage.

It was much the same in the second half, although a few more points were on offer. First it was the Warriors, who combined some luck with good play as Shaun Johnson batted a bomb back to Konrad Hurrell who crashed over. The Bulldogs then hit straight back though through Tony Williams after a nice pass from Reynolds, and it was 14-12. The Warriors didn't have quite the same punch on the edge after Matulino went off with an injury, but they pulled ahead again from Simon Mannering's great effort in getting to a Johnson grubber just before the dead ball line.

The Warriors looked to be in control for much of the second half, but the Bulldogs continued to hang around and were rewarded with 10 minutes to go when Hodkinson scooped up a loose Warriors pass and ran 70 metres downfield. He was pulled down by the Warriors cover defence but on the ensuing play the Bulldogs spread it to the other side of the field and crossed through Tim Lafai.

A crucial play then followed five minutes later when Josh Reynolds appeared to have lost the ball in the ruck. But because of Sam Tomkins' presence around the play-the-ball the call was, perhaps unluckily for Tomkins, changed to a Bulldogs penalty. Trent Hodkinson had a somewhat challenging goal attempt but his radar was on again and the game was locked up with just a few minutes left.

The Warriors had the first chance at field goal through Thomas Leuluai, but the pressure from the Bulldogs defence was good and Leuluai failed to adjust, pushing the attempt wide. The decisive play for the Bulldogs then came, with some good metres from the Bulldogs forwards allowing Trent Hodkinson some nice space for his field goal attempt. It was a beautifully struck kick and the ball sailed between the uprights. 

The Warriors still had time for one more chance and Hurrell made a lovely bust down the right-hand touchline, but he had no choice except to fling the ball infield as time expired and the Bulldogs cleaned it up to seal the victory.

The Warriors have reason to be a bit more positive after a ludicrous week off-the-field. They looked mostly disciplined and up for the fight, and Shaun Johnson controlled the game for them with much more maturity and control, particularly through his kicking game. However the Bulldogs were just slightly more clinical, particularly when the game was on the line and they set up the field goal attempt with a lot more composure than the Warriors. They have a short turnaround next week with a Friday afternoon game against the Rabbitohs, while the Warriors have an away game against the Dragons on Saturday.


Match Details
New Zealand Warriors 20 Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 21
Venue: Eden Park
Crowd: 22156
Halftime Score: New Zealand Warriors 10 Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 6

LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Josh Reynolds
2 points - Shaun Johnson
1 point - Trent Hodkinson

NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS (20)
Tries: Sam Tomkins, Manu Vatuvei, Konrad Hurrell, Simon Mannering
Field Goals:
Conversions: Shaun Johnson (2/4)
Penalty Goals:

CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS (21)
Tries: Sam Perrett, Tony Williams, Timoteo Lafai
Field Goals: Trent Hodkinson (1/1)
Conversions: Trent Hodkinson (3/3)
Penalty Goals: Trent Hodkinson (1/1)


LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary

Hello and welcome to Sunday afternoon footy, with the troubled Warriors host the Bulldogs from Eden Park. For the Warriors, Jayson Bukuya is out, with Siliva Havili onto the bench. Jacob Lillyman moves from the bench into the front row, shifting Ben Matulino into the backrow. For the Doggies, Frank Pritchard is back, taking Pat O'Hanlon's bench spot.

1: We're underway here as the Bulldogs kick off.

2: UNFORCED ERROR NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Ben Matulino makes an unforced error.

Trouble for the Warriors straight away as Ben Matulino loses the ball in the tackle. Looked like quite a few Dogs hands in there though.

4: Repeat set for the Dogs as the Warriors are trapped in-goal.

4: The Warriors defence holds firm early and now they receive a relieving penalty.

7: Leuluai finds touch 10m out from the Bulldogs line and the players get a breather.

10: TRY NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Scored by Sam Tomkins. Kick to come.

The shift of Matulino to the second row sees immediate benefit. He got the arm free in the tackle and offloaded to Leuluai on the burst. He drew the fullback and found Sam Tomkins, who opens the scoring this afternoon.

11: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Conversion attempt by Shaun Johnson successful.

The conversion from Johnson is successful from a handy position.

12: The Warriors players have now stood there and just watched the kickoff roll dead. So the Dogs will get a chance to hit straight back.

14: The Bulldogs on the attack once more as the Warriors are penalised.

16: Some quick hands sees Corey Thompson race for the corner, but the cover defence from the Warriors in the form of Leuluai and Tomkins forces Thompson to the lose the ball just short of the line. Warriors scrumfeed.

17: A nice kick from Shaun Johnson rolls out just a couple of metres out from the Dogs line. The Warriors looking more settled on both attack and defence so far.

19: Penalty for the Warriors as the ball was stripped from Tomkins.

20: Good defence from the Bulldogs as Konrad Hurrell attempts to barrel his way over the line but he's dragged out. Matulino again got the Warriors on the front foot from a nice offload.

22: A brain explosion from Sam Tomkins. The grubber from Hodkinson was non-threateningly rolling out until for some inexplicable reason he decides to play at it at the last minute and slips out. The hot-and-cold start to his NRL career continues.

24: Josh Reynolds grubbers through the line and a flying Corey Thompson gets a hand to it but the balls rolls dead in-goal. Warriors 20m restart and Tomkins can breath easy for now.

27: Warriors penalty on the fifth tackle after Johnson made a break down the middle and was then held down too long.

28: Going upstairs for a possible try to Vatuvei. Ben Cummins says try....I thought Nielsen may have lost it in the lead-up....

29: TRY NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Scored by Manu Vatuvei. Kick to come.

One look is enough for the video referees. No knock-on and the Warriors are in for their second. The offload from Matulino did it again although this one ended up going to ground. Josh Reynolds had an airwing at it and Vatuvei picked it up and strolled over.

29: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Conversion attempt by Shaun Johnson unsuccessful.

Johnson hits the post from the touchline

30: UNFORCED ERROR NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Ben Matulino makes an unforced error.

Matulino's high involvement ends in an error here as he loses it in the tackle.

32: TRY CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
Scored by Sam Perrett. Kick to come.

The Bulldogs make the Warriors pay for that error. A deep backline movement sees Sam Perrett take advantage of the overlap. The Warriors line speed was non-existent on their own line there.

33: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
Conversion attempt by Trent Hodkinson successful.

Trent Hodkinson has no problem from near the sideline.

33: Bulldogs on the attack again but Ngani Laumape fields the attacking bomb nicely.

35: Bulldogs hot on attack but are then penalised for Ennis running around behind his own player.

37: UNFORCED ERROR NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Jacob Lillyman makes an unforced error.

Lillyman loses it in the play-the-ball and the Warriors look to be falling asleep.

39: The Bulldogs force a repeat set but the Warriors holding out for halftime. Dogs perhaps went a bit too side-to-side there,

40: UNFORCED ERROR CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
Tim Browne makes an unforced error.

Tim Browne loses the ball running onto a flat ball just a few metres out from the tryline. Warriors should hold on until halftime now.

40: And that will be halftime. The Warriors starting strongly and looked disciplined and determined, but started to lose their way a bit as half time approached. The Bulldogs started to find their attacking mojo as the first half wore on and as a result this game is nicely balanced heading into the second half.

40: Second half underway here as the Bulldogs will get first use of the footy.

42: UNFORCED ERROR CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
Tim Browne makes an unforced error.

The Warriors will get the first attacking chance this half as Browne spills it. Replays show it was a clear strip however. Ennis, Reynolds and Tomkins exchange some words at the scrum.

42: TRY NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Scored by Konrad Hurrell. Kick to come.

A couple of slices of luck for the Warriors. First the strip call, now Leuluai puts up the bomb on the fifth. Johnson elevated and got a hand to it, and the ricochet flew into the hands of Hurrell. He barges over from close range and it's another kiss for Mrs Hurrell.

45: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Conversion attempt by Shaun Johnson unsuccessful.

Shaun Johnson is unable to convert from about 10m in from the right touchline.

48: UNFORCED ERROR NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Manu Vatuvei makes an unforced error.

It's the Manu of old as he spills a bomb with not a Bulldog in sight. Bulldogs scrumfeed in an attacking position.

48: TRY CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
Scored by Tony Williams. Kick to come.

And once again the Bulldogs hit straight back. A lovely ball from Josh Reynolds hits a running Tony Williams who strolls through a big gap.

50: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
Conversion attempt by Trent Hodkinson successful.

Hodkinson makes no mistake from a handy position.

56: A Warriors bomb goes back to Manu but he's trapped and it's a handover. The teams just trading completed sets here, but now the Bulldogs receive a penalty.

57: This time Manu holds onto the lofted kick from Reynolds and it's a 20m restart.

57: Video referee for a possible Warriors try. Cummins says try, again I thought Mannering didn't get there in time......

57: TRY NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Scored by Simon Mannering. Kick to come.

And I'm wrong again. There's millimetres in it, but there's enough to suggest Mannering got to the Johnson grubber in time, particularly combined with the original call of try.

58: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Conversion attempt by Shaun Johnson successful.

An easy kick for Johnson goes over.

60: UNFORCED ERROR CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
Corey Thompson makes an unforced error.

Bulldogs knock on here as Manu contests a Warriors attacking bomb. Another chance for the Warriors.

62: An ill-advised grubber from Leuluai on just the second tackle sees the Bulldogs survive and work it out from their own end.

64: Johnson has controlled things pretty well today but he makes a meal of the grubber here and the Bulldogs survive.

64: Penalty for the Warriors and it's been all them for the last 10 or so minutes.

67: TRY CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
Scored by Timoteo Lafai. Kick to come.

Attack for the Warriors turns into a try at the other end. A loose Warriors pass spilled out the back, and Hodkinson pounced and ran 70 metres. He was pulled down but on the next tackle the Dogs spread it to the other side ending with Lafai crossing on the right hand side.

68: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
Conversion attempt by Trent Hodkinson successful.

Lovely conversion from the right hand touchline from Hodkinson.

71: The Dogs spread it and Thompson gets outside Vatuvei but his ensuing grubber just goes dead.

73: Hodkinson makes inroads with a half-break, but his offload goes past Mitch Brown and over the touchline.

74: UNFORCED ERROR NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Siliva Havili makes an unforced error.

The Warriors in a nice attacking position but the youngster Havili can't handle in the tackle.

74: Penalty for the Bulldogs and they will take the two here to tie it up. Original call was knock-on and a possible milk from Reynolds suggests that call may have been right.

76: SUCCESSFUL PENALTY GOAL CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
Penalty goal attempt by Trent Hodkinson successful.

Another quality kick from Hodkinson and we're locked up here.

77: UNFORCED ERROR CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
Sam Perrett makes an unforced error.

Chance for the Warriors here as Perrett spills a pass that he didn't think was coming his way.

77: The field goal attempt from Leuluai goes wide. The Bulldogs pressure was good and Leuluai should have left it considering it was only the third tackle.

78: SUCCESSFUL FIELD GOAL CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
Field goal attempt by Trent Hodkinson successful.

Hodkinson makes no mistake with a well-struck field goal. Two minutes left now and that might do it.

79: Once last chance for the Warriors. Still 60m away.

80: A bullocking run from Hurrell is cut short as he flings it in-field but the Dogs regather the pill. Game over.

80: That's full time here. A very good game that swung back and forth. The Warriors looked perhaps more controlled and calm than in previous weeks, but credit to the Bulldogs for hanging in there and doing enough to get home. Thanks for joining us for this one and check back soon for the match report.

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