Sunday 17 December 2017 / 07:51 AM

NRL THURSDAY: COWBOYS PUMP DOZY DOGS

COWBOYS 30 d. BULLDOGS 14 @ ANZ Stadium

It’s back to the drawing board for Des after the lethargic and disjointed Bulldogs’ woeful 30-14 loss to a Thurston-less Cowboys outfit in Sydney.

THE MATCH: A bright start by the Bulldogs was followed by a contentious no-try ruling when decoy runner Josh Jackson barely grazed Cowboys defender Ray Thompson, which saw the Bunker put up the red light and deny Kerrod Holland.

Michael Morgan’s pinpoint cross-field kick produced the first try after six minutes as Kyle Feldt dotted down, and an avalanche of penalties stymied the Bulldogs’ chances of working their way into the contest.

Morgan scored a neat solo try, before Coen Hess pounced on a deflected kick to give the visitors an imposing 18-0 halftime lead. Hess scored again in almost identical fashion at the 48-minute mark after Brett Morris fumbled a grubber.

The seemingly disinterested Dogs clicked into gear with Holland scoring twice either side of Thompson’s sin-binning and producing a brilliant flick pass for Danny Fulalo to finish off a long-range movement.

Their lead cut to 10 points with 10 minutes left, the Cowboys put the game to bed in fitting fashion: another Morgan kick the Bulldogs failed to combat, with captain Gavin Cooper going in to score.

The absence of Josh Reynolds is an easy excuse for the Bulldogs, but they managed to pull off their most impressive win of the season after the pugnacious pivot hobbled off in Round 9; this performance was the antithesis of the brave defeat of the Raiders. 

THE MAN: Michael Morgan had been criticised for his form in Johnathan Thurston’s recent absence, to the extent that his place as Australia’s and Queensland’s bench utility was brought into question. But he took charge on Thursday night, coming up with four try-assists with his dangerous short kicking game and scoring the Cowboys’ other try himself, a slick individual effort. If Thurston misses Origin I, Morgan has to be a front-runner to get the Maroons’ No.6 jumper.

THE MOMENT: In a disappointingly drab encounter, Bulldogs back-rower Josh Jackson briefly ignited things with his punishing hit on Cowboys centre Justin O’Neill – one of the most spectacular we’ve seen in a 2017 premiership unusually short on bell-ringers.

[YouTube – Mr Hypersonic 25]

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About the author

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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