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Canterbury's crafty defence has opposition seeing double

Sideways glance  ... Bulldogs front-rower James Graham stands to the left of marker Greg Eastwood against the Raiders.

Sideways glance ... Bulldogs front-rower James Graham stands to the left of marker Greg Eastwood against the Raiders.

THE Bulldogs have one of the best defensive records in the NRL, preventing the opposition scoring tries from within 20 metres of their own line.

And now their grand final opponents tomorrow, the Storm, know why.

A careful scrutiny of video footage of Canterbury's defence near their own posts demonstrates that their markers are rarely onside, often standing laterally, rather than immediately and directly in front of the man playing the ball.

It's a tactic that shuts down clever dummy halves, such as Melbourne captain Cameron Smith, the best forward in the game.

Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett rang his former Broncos assistant Kevin Walters, who is now deputy to Storm boss Craig Bellamy, and alerted him to the tactic.

However, Bellamy had already noted the ploy and warned Smith.

Stills taken from recent matches clearly show this is a rehearsed tactic, rather than an ad hoc one.

In a game against the Raiders, who were leading 12-6 on a third tackle, the Bulldogs' James Graham as second marker, stands to the left of and beside the first marker, with Aiden Tolman positioned behind the ruck.

Fourteen seconds and one tackle later, it's backup hooker Joel Romelo as first marker who is standing to the left of the man playing the ball and moving behind him, while Graham, again as second marker, has split to cover the right-hand side of the ruck. It effectively shuts down the Canberra dummy half, restricting his options.

Romelo's position basically commits the Raiders to pass to their left, meaning a carefully rehearsed offside double marker defence can prevent an attacking team from using one half of the field.

In a match against Wests Tigers, with the Bulldogs again defending their own line, hooker and captain Michael Ennis is also offside.

Against Manly, with the Bulldogs leading 12-10 on the second tackle, Ennis again has gambled he won't be penalised as second marker and is standing to the right of the first marker, Graham.

Canterbury's worst offenders are Ennis, Tolman and Graham.

It's not as if this trio or their teammates don't have time to release themselves from the tackled player and occupy marker positions according to the rules.

A study of video footage in real time shows Canterbury players have ample opportunity to regain their feet and stand one behind the other, rather than side by side.

Usually, defensive players are very conscious of conceding penalties close to their own posts, risking an easy two-point kick, or another set of six that could lead to a try.

However, Bulldogs coach Des Hasler has obviously exploited the fact referees tend to focus on the defenders on the try line to determine if any are offside, rather than at the ruck. Or, the referees are caught up in the intensity of the action so close to the line.

The tactic becomes very valuable during the semi-finals when referees tend to blow fewer penalties.

It's difficult to anticipate how Bellamy can counter it if the referees don't warn the Bulldogs tomorrow.

One option would be for dummy half Smith to deliberately step in the direction of the offside Bulldog marker, highlighting his illegal position and win a penalty.

Smith was quoted this week saying his team lost to the Bulldogs in round 20 (they had won 12-6 in round seven), basically, because they could not score, despite multiple sets on the Canterbury line.

Sportsdata statistics show that Canterbury has one of the NRL's best records when it comes to conceding tries within 10 metres of their line. While Manly and Brisbane have conceded fewer tries close to their posts, they haven't had the weight of attacking sets thrown at them the Bulldogs have endured all season.

A defensive statistic devised by Sportsdata, combining metres and tackle numbers yielded as a result of penalties, shows the Bulldogs with a score of 5608 metres, compared with the Storm's 4161, the Sea Eagles' 4382 and the Rabbitohs' 3925. It means the Bulldogs have defended more metres and tackles against them from penalties than any other top four team, yet still can protect their own line.

The wily Hasler has alerted the media to the high penalty count against his team and is obviously gambling referees will be loath to punish his illegal double marker defence on rugby league's big day.

NRL Season 2015

Round 1
Thu, 05 MarTimes shown AEDT
BRI vs SOU 20:05SUN
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
PAR vs MAN 19:45Pirtek Stadium
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs WAR 16:30HS
GCT vs WST 19:00Cbus Super Stadium
NQL vs SYD 21:001300 Smiles Stadium
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
PEN vs CBY 16:00Pepper Stadium
CRO vs CBR 18:30Remondis Stadium
Mon, 09 MarTimes shown AEDT
STG vs MEL 19:00Jubilee Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
CBY vs PAR 19:35ANZ
CRO vs BRI 20:35Remondis Stadium
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
PEN vs GCT 16:30Carrington Park
MAN vs MEL 19:00BO
NQL vs NEW 21:001300 Smiles Stadium
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
SOU vs SYD 16:00ANZ
CBR vs WAR 18:30GIO Stadium
Mon, 16 MarTimes shown AEDT
WST vs STG 19:00CSS
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
MAN vs CBY 19:35BO
BRI vs NQL 20:35SUN
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
WAR vs PAR 15:00MSS
CBR vs STG 17:30GIO Stadium
MEL vs CRO 19:30AAMI
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
SOU vs WST 16:00ANZ
GCT vs NEW 18:30Cbus Super Stadium
Mon, 23 MarTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs PEN 19:00AS
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
PAR vs SOU 19:35Pirtek Stadium
WST vs CBY 19:35ANZ
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs PEN 15:00HS
CRO vs GCT 17:30Remondis Stadium
STG vs MAN 19:30WIN
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
WAR vs BRI 12:00MSS
SYD vs CBR 14:00AS
Mon, 30 MarTimes shown AEDT
NQL vs MEL 19:001300 Smiles Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
CBY vs SOU 16:00ANZ
GCT vs BRI 20:35Cbus Super Stadium
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
MAN vs CBR 17:30To Be Confirmed
NEW vs STG 19:30HS
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CRO 16:00AS
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
PAR vs WST 15:00ANZ
MEL vs WAR 17:00AAMI
PEN vs NQL 19:00Pepper Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI vs SYD 19:35SUN
CRO vs NEW 19:35Remondis Stadium
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
PAR vs GCT 15:00Pirtek Stadium
WAR vs WST 17:30MSS
PEN vs MAN 19:30Pepper Stadium
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
CBR vs MEL 14:00GIO Stadium
STG vs CBY 16:00ANZ
Mon, 13 AprTimes shown AEST
SOU vs NQL 19:00ANZ
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CBY vs MAN 19:35ANZ
STG vs BRI 19:35Jubilee Oval
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
GCT vs PEN 15:00Cbus Super Stadium
NQL vs WAR 17:301300 Smiles Stadium
MEL vs SYD 19:30AAMI
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
WST vs CBR 14:00VAS
NEW vs PAR 16:00HS
Mon, 20 AprTimes shown AEST
CRO vs SOU 19:00Remondis Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CBY vs WST 19:45ANZ
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
WAR vs GCT 12:00MSS
NEW vs NQL 14:00HS
SYD vs STG 16:00AS
MEL vs MAN 18:15AAMI
BRI vs PAR 20:00SUN
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
PEN vs CRO 14:00Pepper Stadium
SOU vs CBR 16:00Barlow Park
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs PEN 19:35SUN
SYD vs WST 19:35AS
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
CBR vs GCT 15:00GIO Stadium
CRO vs WAR 17:30Remondis Stadium
NQL vs CBY 19:301300 Smiles Stadium
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
MAN vs NEW 14:00BO
PAR vs MEL 16:00Pirtek Stadium
Mon, 11 MayTimes shown AEST
SOU vs STG 19:00ANZ
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
CBY vs SYD 19:35ANZ
NQL vs BRI 19:351300 Smiles Stadium
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
PAR vs WAR 15:00Pirtek Stadium
GCT vs CRO 17:30Cbus Super Stadium
MEL vs SOU 19:30AAMI
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
STG vs CBR 14:00WIN
NEW vs WST 16:00HS
Mon, 18 MayTimes shown AEST
MAN vs PEN 19:00BO
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
SOU vs PAR 19:45ANZ
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
WST vs NQL 19:30CSS
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
CBR vs CBY 16:00GIO Stadium
Mon, 25 MayTimes shown AEST
NEW vs BRI 19:00HS
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
PEN vs PAR 19:45Pepper Stadium
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
GCT vs SOU 15:00Cbus Super Stadium
CBR vs BRI 17:30GIO Stadium
NQL vs MAN 19:301300 Smiles Stadium
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
WAR vs NEW 14:00MSS
STG vs CRO 16:00Jubilee Oval
Mon, 01 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs MEL 19:00AS
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
BRI vs MAN 19:35SUN
WST vs GCT 19:35VAS
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
NEW vs CBR 15:00HS
SOU vs WAR 17:30nib Stadium
PEN vs MEL 19:30Pepper Stadium
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
CRO vs SYD 16:00Remondis Stadium
Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
CBY vs STG 16:00ANZ
PAR vs NQL 19:00Pirtek Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
WST vs SOU 19:45ANZ
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
WAR vs SYD 18:00MSS
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
GCT vs CBY 16:00Cbus Super Stadium
Mon, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL vs PAR 19:00AAMI
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
MAN vs WST 19:45BO
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
CBR vs NQL 15:00GIO Stadium
GCT vs WAR 17:30Cbus Super Stadium
CBY vs PEN 19:30ANZ
Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
NEW vs CRO 14:00HS
MEL vs BRI 16:00AAMI
Mon, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
STG vs SYD 19:00AS
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
BRI vs NEW 19:35SUN
SOU vs MAN 19:35ANZ
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
WAR vs CBR 15:00MSS
NQL vs CRO 17:301300 Smiles Stadium
PAR vs STG 19:30Pirtek Stadium
Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs GCT 14:00AS
WST vs PEN 16:00VAS
Mon, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
CBY vs MEL 19:00Belmore Sports Ground
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN vs SOU 19:45Pepper Stadium
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
STG vs NQL 19:30WIN
Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
MAN vs CRO 16:00BO
Mon, 06 JulTimes shown AEST
WST vs PAR 19:00ANZ
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
CBR vs NEW 19:45GIO Stadium
Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN vs SYD 17:30Pepper Stadium
CBY vs BRI 19:30ANZ
Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
WAR vs MEL 14:00MSS
CRO vs STG 16:00Remondis Stadium
Mon, 13 JulTimes shown AEST
GCT vs MAN 19:00Cbus Super Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
PAR vs CBY 19:35ANZ
MEL vs PEN 19:35AAMI
Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
CBR vs CRO 15:00GIO Stadium
NEW vs GCT 17:30HS
STG vs SOU 19:30SCG
Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs WAR 14:00AS
BRI vs WST 16:00SUN
Mon, 20 JulTimes shown AEST
MAN vs NQL 19:00BO
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
BRI vs GCT 19:35SUN
WST vs SYD 19:35ANZ
Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
WAR vs MAN 15:00MSS
SOU vs NEW 17:30ANZ
MEL vs STG 19:30AAMI
Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN vs CBR 14:00Pepper Stadium
CBY vs CRO 16:00Belmore Sports Ground
Mon, 27 JulTimes shown AEST
NQL vs PAR 19:001300 Smiles Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Thu, 30 JulTimes shown AEST
WAR vs CRO 22:00MSS
Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
NQL vs CBR 00:001300 Smiles Stadium
STG vs NEW 00:00Jubilee Oval
SOU vs PEN 00:00ANZ
SYD vs CBY 00:00AS
MAN vs BRI 00:00To Be Confirmed
WST vs MEL 00:00VAS
GCT vs PAR 00:00Cbus Super Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Thu, 06 AugTimes shown AEST
WAR vs STG 22:00MSS
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI vs CBY 00:00SUN
NEW vs SYD 00:00HS
CBR vs WST 00:00GIO Stadium
MAN vs SOU 00:00BO
CRO vs NQL 00:00Remondis Stadium
MEL vs GCT 00:00AAMI
PAR vs PEN 00:30TIO
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Thu, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI vs STG 00:00SUN
CBY vs GCT 00:00To Be Confirmed
NQL vs SOU 00:001300 Smiles Stadium
PEN vs WAR 00:00Pepper Stadium
CBR vs MAN 00:00GIO Stadium
SYD vs PAR 00:00AS
CRO vs MEL 00:00Remondis Stadium
WST vs NEW 00:00CSS
View All Fixtures
Round 24
Wed, 19 AugTimes shown AEST
WAR vs NQL 22:00MSS
Thu, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
STG vs PEN 00:00WIN
SOU vs CBY 00:00ANZ
SYD vs BRI 00:00AS
MAN vs PAR 00:00BO
CRO vs WST 00:00Remondis Stadium
MEL vs NEW 00:00AAMI
GCT vs CBR 00:00Cbus Super Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 25
Thu, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
PAR vs CRO 00:00Pirtek Stadium
NEW vs CBY 00:00HS
SOU vs BRI 00:00AS
CBR vs PEN 00:00GIO Stadium
MAN vs SYD 00:00BO
MEL vs NQL 00:00AAMI
WST vs WAR 00:00CSS
GCT vs STG 00:00Cbus Super Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 26
Thu, 03 SepTimes shown AEST
BRI vs MEL 00:00SUN
CBY vs WAR 00:00ANZ
NQL vs GCT 00:001300 Smiles Stadium
STG vs WST 00:00ANZ
PAR vs CBR 00:00Pirtek Stadium
PEN vs NEW 00:00Pepper Stadium
SYD vs SOU 00:00AS
CRO vs MAN 00:00Remondis Stadium
View All Fixtures
NRL Ladder 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D Pts
Brisbane Broncos 0 0 0 0 0
Canberra Raiders 0 0 0 0 0
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 0 0 0 0 0
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 0 0 0 0 0
Gold Coast Titans 0 0 0 0 0
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 0 0 0 0 0
Melbourne Storm 0 0 0 0 0
Newcastle Knights 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 
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