Tuesday 23 January 2018 / 01:29 AM


After enduring one of the toughest weeks in club history, Canterbury Bulldogs grafted out a character-filled 16-2 defeat of the high-flying St George Illawarra Dragons on Queen’s Birthday Monday.

A 24,083-strong crowd turned out at ANZ Stadium to see the under-pressure Bulldogs – who were coming off a 38-0 loss to Penrith – run away with the arm-wrestle via three tries in the last 27 minutes of the match.

The blue-and-whites started with plenty of intent, dominating territory and possession, but their inability to put points on the board (including a bombed try from Brett Morris with the line wide open) seemed to hand the advantage to the Saints.

But the Bulldogs were committed on their own try-line, and a Gareth Widdop penalty goal in the 21st minute was the only score of the opening 53 minutes.

Will Hopoate broke the impasse when he made a break and set Josh Morris up for the first try of the match, before Michael Lichaa scored the easiest of four-pointers from dummy-half with 11 minutes left.

Rookie winger Marcelo Montoya sealed the upset result in the 74th minute, collecting a deflected ball and beating the tackle of Josh Dugan to score in the corner.

The win continued the Bulldogs’ remarkable streak of bounce-back performances in 2017: after losing their opening two games they downed the Warriors 24-12 in Dunedin; they followed up a 36-0 rout at the hands of Manly by edging out heavyweights Brisbane 10-7; and they recovered from a dismal loss to struggling Wests Tigers by defying a string of injuries to subdue Canberra 16-10.

But this was arguably the most notable effort of their campaign to date, snapping a four-match losing streak to dial down the blowtorch on maligned coach Des Hasler. The club is holding a fan forum at the Canterbury Leagues Club on Tuesday – and a courageous win over one of the competition’s form teams may have mellowed the Bulldogs’ furious supporters a shade.

[YouTube – Mr Hypersonic 25]

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Will Evans

CBS’s Editor-in-Chief and lead rugby league, union and cricket writer, Will is a Christchurch-based freelancer, also writing for Big League and Rugby League Review magazines, and The New Daily website. Will has written four rugby league books.

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