NRL 2 years ago

Bulldogs eliminate Dragons in golden point

  • Bulldogs eliminate Dragons in golden point
  • Bulldogs eliminate Dragons in golden point

Canterbury must learn to adjust to the loss of Trent Hodkinson - and fast.

That was the message from the Bulldogs despite progressing to the second week of the NRL finals with a thrilling 11-10 win over St George Illawarra on Saturday night at ANZ Stadium.

Canterbury set up a date with minor premiers the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium on Friday night after a Josh Reynolds field goal in golden point propelled them to a nailbiting win.

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However, it was far from pretty and they failed to take advantage of a host of opportunities without Hodkinson (wrist) at the helm.

After a helter skelter final 10 minutes in which in which the lead changed hands twice - and four minutes of golden point extra time - the Dogs emerged the victors.

Canterbury aren't without their problems with Frank Pritchard and Sam Kasiano both put on report for their heavy treatment of Dragons five-eighth Gareth Widdop.

Widdop attempted a field goal which was charged down. When he ran back to dive on the ball, Pritchard kneed him in the back while Kasiano came through with an arm to the head.

Widdop slotted the resulting penalty and, just as the Dragons looked like they were going to steal it, a Shaun Lane try with two minutes on the clock allowed the Dogs to regain the lead.

But there were more twists to come and a penalty allowed the Dragons to equalise at 10-10 on the bell.

However, Widdop's night went from diamonds to rocks quickly as he booted out on the full to gift the Dogs field position and Reynolds slotted the winning one-pointer four minutes into the extra stanza.

The Dogs have lacked direction in their past two outings without NSW halfback and the side's chief organiser Hodkinson.

It has been left up to Reynolds and Moses Mbye to steer the team around the park and, while Canterbury managed to get over the line, Dogs coach Des Hasler said the side needed to make better decisions in key situations.

"We didn't manage our possession well; we were doing far too much 'D' (defence). A lot of it was forced - we just need to adjust," Hasler said.

"We need to keep putting pressure on the defence.

"We need to manage what we do when we have the ball and we were a little bit jittery."

For the Dragons, they went out swinging as a rollercoaster season came to an end.

They finished the game with just one man on the bench after halfback Benji Marshall (high ankle sprain), Joel Thompson (hamstring) and George Rose (torn bicep) all left the field in the second half.

"We've got guys who were playing busted and playing with needles for months," Dragons coach Paul McGregor said.

"No one sees that from the outside, then we come out today and no one except us and our close fans thought we could win the game.

"There's been a number of things that have changed and obstacles along the way.

"But those blokes in there have really grown and they'll continue to."

The game was marred in the second half when Bulldogs captain James Graham suggested to referee Jared Maxwell that he had been bitten on the arm.

However, he withdrew the complaint and later declared there was "nothing in it".

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