ROUND 18 - 2002

Date 14th Jul 2002
Venue WIN Stadium
Coach Steve Folkes
Captain Steve Price
Referee Paul Simpkins
Crowd 18048
Bulldogs V Dragons
28 26
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Player Tries Goals F Goals Points
Hazem El Masri 0 4 0 8
Braith Anasta 1 0 0 4
Jamie Feeney 1 0 0 4
Glen Hughes 1 0 0 4
Luke Patten 1 0 0 4
Willie Talau 1 0 0 4

Match Review

Same story, different week - just change the name of the Bulldogs' opponents.

Even Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes seemed to be growing weary of the monotony of it all after watching his side rack up its 14th consecutive win yesterday at WIN Stadium.

Not that he minds winning. It's just every victory is followed by the inevitable speculation that they are either getting closer to a loss or Eastern Suburbs' 27-year-old record of 19 successive victories.

"As I've said ad nauseam for 10 weeks now, we've only got control over what we do so we don't worry about all of that stuff, we just worry about the next game," Folkes said at the start of the post-match press conference.

"We're playing well enough, we're confident, we're getting away with games like today when we didn't play well in the second half and injury-wise we've been lucky so . . . what was the question again?"

At least, St George Illawarra, playing before a record crowd at their renovated Wollongong home, had pushed the competition leaders right until full-time and beyond, with referee Paul Simpkins allowing play to continue for one further tackle after full-time.

But as they have done in every match except their one loss of the season in the opening round against Wests Tigers, the Bulldogs were in command at half-time and they hung on for yet another victory.

"It was a contest, and they'd have some bruises, as we'd have some bruises," St George Illawarra coach Andrew Farrar said. "It's just a pity we left it a little bit late for our run."

Trailing 28-6 just four minutes into the second half, the Dragons fought back bravely after losing NSW Origin prop Luke Bailey with concussion just moments after his fourth-minute try.

Bailey's try, his first at NRL level, was the only time the home side led and by the 13th minute the Bulldogs had hit the front after five-eighth Braith Anasta laid on tries for Glen Hughes and Luke Patten.

The Blues Origin representative was also the victim of a late tackle that landed Justin Smith on report, although replays of the 19th-minute incident suggested the St George Illawarra second-rower should have no judiciary concerns, and he scored a 38th-minute try.

But after Bulldogs replacement Jamie Feeney crossed in the 44th minute off a Willie Talau flick pass, the momentum suddenly shifted towards the Dragons and halfback Ben Hornby began their comeback three minutes later.

Test centre Shaun Timmins put winger Matt Cooper over in the 63rd minute and when Amos Roberts scored five minutes later after a 60-metre break by Lee Hookey the deficit had been suddenly reduced to 28-22.

Bulldogs prop Paul Rauhihi had a try disallowed in the 71st minute after video referee Phil Cooley referred the decision back to Simpkins and was then placed on report two minutes later for a high tackle that dazed stand-in Dragons captain Jason Hooper - although no penalty was awarded.

A Cooper break down the right-hand touchline led to Brent Kite scoring out wide four minutes from full-time, but St George Illawarra hooker Mark Riddell narrowly missed the conversion attempt.

"As soon as he scored I was pretty stoked to be able to take a goal kick from the sideline to level it up," a dejected Riddell said.

"But I never reverse swing the ball and it went the other way for some reason so I'm pretty disappointed."

Remarkably, had he been successful it would have been the fourth draw in six matches this season at WIN Stadium.


Data provided by Clint Crofts