Bulldogs 30 Wests Tigers 10
Crestfallen: Robbie Farah and the Wests TIgers. Photo: Getty Images
The Bulldogs completed the first leg of their Thursday night forays with a convincing win against the Wests Tigers.
A calculated assault on the Tigers' makeshift left-side defence was the catalyst for the Bulldogs' second win at ANZ Stadium in seven days and moves them to the cusp of finals football.
It remains to be seen if the Bulldogs' finals chances are as bright as the Sydney weather when it broke briefly in the afternoon or as dismal as it had been for the rest of the week.
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Jackson, Thompson, Lafai(2), Ennis||Tries||5||Tries||2||Players||Brooks, Woods|
|Players||Hodkinson 5/5 (100%)||Conversions||5||Conversions||1||Players||Paterson 1/2 (50%)|
|Players||Penalty goals||0||Penalty goals||0||Players|
|Players||Hodkinson 0/1 (0%)||Field goals||0||Field goals||0||Players|
Either way they will get a much clearer picture next Thursday when they go from playing the worst defence in the NRL to the best when they host the Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium.
Nevertheless they did what they had to do on Thursday night, and that was to get the two points, and they moved their points differential into the positive. Strangely, it took Sydney's big wet to bring out the Bulldogs' attacking best.
Des Hasler's plan to target the out-of-position centre and wing pairing of Blake Austin and Cory Paterson proved a masterstroke as it yielded four first-half tries.
Trent Hodkinson served it on a platter for Josh Jackson to open the scoring down the path they continued to hammer for the rest of the opening stanza.
It proved successful not long after as Sam Perrett delivered the money ball for Corey Thompson to scamper in the corner to open a 12-0 lead inside the opening 20 minutes. They continued to race the clock as Tim Lafai pushed off three defenders to make it three tries – all down the right side — in 11 minutes.
Lafai's double on the half-hour mark effectively killed off the game and Hodkinson slotted his fourth conversion, from the sideline, to go with his two try assists and a line break in his best half of footy since Origin two.
The second half was a hard slog with both teams lacking polish, a large reason they sat third- and fourth-last on the try-scoring tally.
Jackson, who switched to left centre to cover for the injured Perrett in the second half, bombed a certain try when he bounced a ball that came off fill-in fullback Josh Morris' chest.
It started better for the Tigers when halfback Luke Brooks trapped a kick and sprinted 95 metres to score. However, the celebrations didn't last long as he immediately left the field with a hamstring injury – a perfect illustration of how their season has gone so far.
Captain Michael Ennis gave the hearty crowd of 9877 something to cheer with an individual chip-and-chase try that took the Bulldogs to the 30-point mark for only the fourth time this season as they took a chance to rest several stars with the game safely in their keeping.
The end of the season can't come quick enough for the injury ravaged Tigers. The 20-point loss means the joint venture has now conceded 198 points since their last win in round 19 – against the Bulldogs. A late Aaron Woods try allowed them to narrowly avoid a fourth straight single-figure score.