ROUND 16 - 2002

Date 28th Jun 2002
Venue Parramatta Stadium
Coach Steve Folkes
Captain Steve Price
Referee Paul Simpkins
Crowd 22136
Bulldogs V Eels
32 18
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Player Tries Goals F Goals Points
Willie Talau 2 0 0 8
Hazem El Masri 0 4 0 8
Braith Anasta 1 0 0 4
Willie Mason 1 0 0 4
Luke Patten 1 0 0 4
Nigel Vagana 1 0 0 4

Match Review

The Bulldogs have sent out yet another warning to the other contenders in this years premiership that they will take a power of stopping.

Winning their 12th game in a row the Bulldogs juggernaut has seen them play weaker teams in recent weeks, but against the Eels at Parramatta Stadium - it was to be a major test. The Dogs ran home with a convincing 32-18 victory set up by a powerhouse performance from the two Willie's: Mason and Talau, along with brilliant performances from Queensland origin heroes Norton and Price.

Price was particuarly impressive playing the full 80 minutes of football backing up from State of Origin several days earlier. The dogs set up the victory by muscling up in defence and backing themselves in attack on every occasion.

The eels raced to a early 6-0 lead when Nathan Cayless took a great pass from Adam Dykes to crash over under the posts following on from a break from Andrew Ryan in the lead up.

Several minutes later the match hit its first controversial note when Hazem El Masri smashed winger Jason Moodie with a horrible high shot leaving the Parramatta winger heavily concussed. The goalkicking winger was placed on report and looks to be facing a lengthy stint on the sideline.

The Bulldogs hit back with a try of their own minutes later with their first chance of the match from a controversial try to Braith Anasta. Anasta followed through a trademark Brent Sherwin grubber, diving on the ball for what looked like a regulation four pointer. Replays revealed Anasta may have just knocked the ball forward in grounding the football, but referee Paul Simpkins didn't bother to check upstairs.

But it seemed to have evened up just two minutes later when a blindside play through Talau and Utai resulted in Jamie Feeney crossing. The try was called back for what looked to be an incorrect forward pass call.

The Eels hit the front in the 26th minute with their second try when they won a scrum against the feed 10 metres from the Bulldogs tryline. The rare occurence in the modern day game saw the Dogs blindside defence shot and Burt strolled through to score. Eels prop Nathan Cayless was the main contributor by striking at the ball in the scrum but may have pushed the rulebook to the edge though by striking from outside and beyond the Eels half of the scrum. The try nonetheless was awarded.

But like the Bulldogs have been accustomed to doing all season, they were able to respond almost instantly following the try with a powerhouse try of their own. Luke Patten running at the fringe of the Eels defensive line put a brilliant pass to find Talau with space down the left wing. He barrelled through the last line of Eels defence to score in the corner.

With the scores locked at 10-all shortly before halftime the Bulldogs struck a major blow when Travis Norton setup a brilliant a try for the slippery Nigel Vagana. Norton stepped and jinked them offloaded to find Vagana who hit and spun his way over the line for yet another 2002 season try. El Masri's conversion saw the Bulldogs head into halftime 16-10 ahead.

The Bulldogs had the early chances in the 2nd half, but good Eels defence held them out. They responded in turn with a penalty goal following their first venture into the Bulldogs half.

As the half went on the Bulldogs started to ascert their ascendancy in the match, and following a 30m run by El Masri down the right touchline, field position for setup for the Bulldogs. After forcing a line drop out the Bulldogs opened up the biggest lead of the match when Willie Mason captured a short pass from Sherwin and reached out to score besides the posts.

In true style though, the Eels wouldn't let go of the match that easily and several minutes later Andrew Ryan was following through a grubber to score underneath the sticks.

Ahead 22-18 the Bulldogs seemingly found another gear that the Eels simply didn't have. Willie Mason was the hero again offloading the ball - despite the attention of many defenders - to setup Talau's 2nd try of the match. Not long after Nigel Vagana collected a cross field bomb then found support on the outside with Patten touching down in the corner to cement the victory.

Despite hanging in throughout the match the Eels seemed a class level below this years Bulldogs side who were able to threaten constantly through the match. You got the feeling the Eels were hanging on and never quite threatened the same in attack despite defending well for most of the match.

There wasn't a weakness across the park for the Bulldogs as players 1-17 are all in true-form and are displaying hunger in defence and a devastating hungriness in attack. For now the Bulldogs march on in the competition, while the Eels can take many positives out of the match but still have plenty of work to do if they are to make a 2nd consecutive Grand Final.

It was a big night for the Bulldogs club winning all three Grades away from home. In first division the club won 40-12 while the Flegg got home 24-10. The only concern for the Bulldogs is the possible lengthy suspension to goal-kicking winger Hazem El Masri.


Data provided by Clint Crofts