CANTERBURY stalwarts Paul Dunn and Graeme Hughes couldn’t remember the Dogs ever scoring a longer-range try. The man who dotted down, Josh Morris, thought its creator, Ben Barba, was going to stuff it up.
And on a day when 14,344 fans arrived at Skilled Park talking about trying to pay great debts, they left in debt to a great try for their afternoon’s superb entertainment. It happened four minutes before half-time with Gold Coast leading 14-12.
Fielding a kick in his own in-goal, Barba beat two defenders and set sail up the eastern touchline. He rounded opposite number William Zillman and, just as the Titan began to corner him, off-loaded to centre Morris for the final 30-metre run to the try line. Des Hasler’s side fell behind one more time on a sunny afternoon, before going on to win an exhilarating contest 30-20.
Dunn, who played 100 games for the Bulldogs between 1986 and 1990 and is now a director, said: “Idon’t think I’ve ever seen another Canterbury try scored from the in-goal. It’s up there for spectacular, it’s up there for long-range.”
Hughes added: “I remember the Entertainers of 1980 won the try of the year and it started in our own 20 and went through 11 pairs of hands. But from the in-goal? I can’t think of one.”
Dunn said “[Barba] could have made it easier by passing to Josh when he got to the fullback the first time”, and Morris agreed. “I thought he probably could have passed it earlier – he obviously knew what he was doing,” the centre laughed.
A straw poll of Canterbury fans last night threw up similar efforts by Barba, Luke Patten, Rod Silva and Matt Utai as being of similar quality to yesterday’s epic. Barba’s 99-metre effort against Sydney Roosters last year has 182 views on YouTube.
Barba was happy to recount the try – but as was the case a fortnight ago at Mt Smart Stadium – was more proud of his team’s Herculean defensive efforts. In the 17th minute he joined Kris Keating in holding up giant Titan Nate Myles in-goal and in the 74th minute he prevented Gold Coast prop Luke Bailey from touching down all on his own.
“Luckily enough I bounced off ... I think it was [Beau] Champion,” Barba said of the try. “And a bit of space opened up there and I just took it. I think Josh was there earlier and I should have passed to him earlier. I was just going to take on Zillman. Luckily he didn’t get between me and Josh and the ball and I was able to off-load it.
“I’d like to save more than I score. Defence is a big part of the game, defence wins you games.
“If I can watch one game each week, it’s Melbourne. [Billy Slater] is the best player in the game and he just happens to be a fullback. I suppose he’s a great teacher [even though] he doesn’t know people are trying to emulate him. He’s everywhere and I’ve got to work my guts off to be anywhere as good as him.”
Bulldogs five-eighth Josh Reynolds said of his fullback: “It’s definitely the saved tries [that we appreciate]. Everyone knows what a freak he is in scoring them. Everyone is used to that but he’s developing his game. It’s all up for him, he’s stopping tries as well as scoring them. He’s killing it.”
Morris added: “Benny last year probably wouldn’t have saved that try against [Kevin] Locke and that one against Luke today. It’s inspirational stuff from Benny. His attack’s always been good but it’s been his defence ... he’s holding his own. It’s great to see how he’s progressed under Dessy. The way we’ve finished games ... we can attribute that to a lot of the sports science staff.”
Asked if there was one 100m try each season, Gold Coast coach John Cartwright said: “If that ... those sorts of things just seem to be happening to us at the moment.”