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Bulldogs thump Storm

The Melbourne Storm have suffered their first loss in a thumping win by the Bulldogs 40-12 at NIB Stadium.

PT1M10S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-35r1r 620 349

Canterbury got their 2014 NRL season back on track and made full use of their Perth “hometown” advantage with a 40 to 12 win over the Melbourne Storm in front of a crowd of 12,014 at nib Stadium last night.

Amid rare persistent rain in Perth, the Dogs initially looked like their WA expedition may end in tears as the Storm completely dominated the opening exchanges.

But Des Hasler’s men fought their way back into the contest and outscored Melbourne 28-2 after half-time to record a second win of the season in emphatic fashion.

Try time: James Graham crosses for a Canterbury try.

Try time: James Graham crosses for a Canterbury try. Photo: Getty Images

Time
80.00
Team
BUL
Score
40
Team
MEL
Score
12
Canterbury-Bankstown versus Melbourne
View Match Statistics
Players Hodkinson, Morris, Klemmer, Jackson, Graham, Stanley, Lafai Tries 7 Tries 2 Players Slater, Chambers
Players Hodkinson 6/7 (85%) Conversions 6 Conversions 1 Players Harris 1/2 (50%)
Players Penalty goals 0 Penalty goals 1 Players Harris 1/1 (100%)
Players Field goals 0 Field goals 0 Players

Trent Hodkinson was in everything for the Bulldogs, scoring a try of his own, converting another six and wreaking second half-havoc with some well-weighted kicks, as a tired-looking Storm outfit – robbed pre-match of captain Cameron Smith - dropped its first match for the year.

The weather conditions were hardly conducive to slick and sure-handed play but the Dogs produced some second-half highlights that would have been impressive on a dry evening.

Tim Lafai showed lighting acceleration to help lay on a first NRL try for David Klemmer and give the Bulldogs the lead for good seven minutes into the second half.

But the best was still yet to come. Josh Reynolds – equally as damaging with the boot as Hodkinson – executed a brilliant cross-field kick that barely travelled above head-height and was finished out wide by a diving Chase Stanley.

Hodkinson’s ensuing conversion, his sixth of the night, made it 36-12 after 66 minutes and ended any hope the Storm may have had of an unlikely comeback.

Another brilliant display of power running by Lafai provided one last try and the Dogs’ final margin.

Earlier, Smith had been a pre-game withdrawal with a back problem but for the first 20 minutes it looked like he wouldn’t be missed, with 80 per cent of the play in the Bulldogs’ half and Melbourne racing to a 10-0 lead.

Stand-in skipper Cooper Cronk was influential, featuring prominently in the lead-up to Billy Slater’s opening try (from a brilliant inside ball from Kevin Proctor) and then laying on another for Will Chambers.

At that stage the sloppy Dogs looked completely at sea in the slippery conditions and things only looked like getting worse when Dale Finucane received the game’s first penalty for a high left arm on Slater.

But the Bulldogs rallied from that point on. The Storm contracted the fumbles and Canterbury made good use of two penalties within the same set of six when Hodkinson showed some nice footwork to cross under the posts after 24 minutes.

Hodkinson’s subsequent conversion made it 6-10 and it was – as improbable as it had looked 10 minutes earlier – 12-10 to the Bulldogs after 30 minutes, when another Hodkinson conversion capped off a brilliant individual effort from Josh Morris.

Morris showed enormous strength, perseverance and dexterity to crash over near the left corner, opposed to three Melbourne defenders.

The Bulldogs held that lead until the half-time and went into the break having all but evened out the time spent in possession and in the opposition half in the preceding 20 minutes.

The Storm brought in Mitch Garbutt for George Rose before the match but a more dramatic change was to come when captain Smith experienced back tightness during the warm-ups.

His only contribution for the evening was to elect to kick off towards “The Shed” end and it initially looked like a telling one, as the rain tumbled down the match’s opening minutes and Melbourne put the Bulldogs under the pump.

But those opening 20 minutes were as good as it would get for the Storm. 

BULLDOGS 40 (J Graham T Hodkinson J Jackson D Klemmer T Lafai J Morris C Stanley tries T Hodkinson 6 goals) bt MELBOURNE 12 (W Chambers B Slater tries T Harris 2 goals) at nib Stadium. Referee: Ashley Klein, Adam Gee. Crowd: 12,014.