ROUND 23 - 2002

Date 16th Aug 2002
Venue Sydney Showground
Coach Steve Folkes
Captain Steve Price
Referee Steve Clark
Crowd 19346
Bulldogs V Eels
28 10
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Player Tries Goals F Goals Points
Willie Talau 2 0 0 8
Matt Utai 2 0 0 8
Hazem El Masri 0 4 0 8
Luke Patten 1 0 0 4

Match Review

Canterbury have returned to form with a comprehensive first half effort to defeat Parramatta 28-10 in front of 19,346 fans at Sydney Showground. Canterbury led 22-0 at the break and it was enough to hold firm during the second half as the Eels tried to mount a comeback.

The Bulldogs winning run came to end last week by the Warriors and normally teams after a winning run is ended suffer a letdown but the Bulldogs quickly bounced into form during the first 40 minutes to confine Parramatta to another loss.

Canterbury simply had too much strength in the forwards and class in the backs over the Eels side that had some ability about them but in most parts was a patched up side. Parramatta had no attacking options to threaten the Bulldogs defence during the first half while the likes of Willie Talau and Matthew Utai were unstoppable.

Parramatta aimed their entire attack at Jonathon Thurston and while he missed a few tackles, his defence overall was impressive and came through his starting debut with flying colours.

Talau and Utai each scored two first half tries as the Bulldogs racked up a commanding 22-0 lead at the break. Utai scored first when he chased through a Brent Sherwin grubber kick after a mid-field break from Talau. Utai was in the act again when he scored a superb solo try bumping off defenders like flies.

It was Talau's turn to get in the act and his two tries score Canterbury race out to a big lead heading into halftime. Nigel Vagana had the chance to equal Chris Anderson's 1983 record for most tries in the one season but couldn't catch the rebound from Hazem El Masri after a crossfield kick from Sherwin.

Parramatta came out a much better side after the break and a try to Jason Moodie outwide following good work from Andrew Ryan got the Eels on the board.

Luke Patten scored outwide to put any fears of a late comeback to rest to open up a 28-4 lead. Luke Burt scored a late try for the Eels following an excellent inside ball from Brad Draw but it was all too late for the Eels with Canterbury running out 28-10 winners.

Talau won the Channel Nine Man of the Match award and that was most deserving. He was devastating outwide and cut the Eels open on many occasions. His form in 2002 has been sensational and one of the leading candidates to win Dally M Centre of the Year with fellow Kiwis Nigel Vagana and Clinton Toopi his only serious competition.

Other Bulldogs to have outstanding matches included Utai, Willie Mason, Mark O'Meley, Darren Smith, Tony Grimaldi and Steven Price.

Best for the Eels was easily Nathan Hindmarsh. His game has picked up so remarkably in recent weeks. He's gone from a wide runner to a hard worker in both attack and defence. The big criticism of Hindmarsh was that he went missing in big matches but he was everywhere trying to lift Parramatta out of their slump (minus a 54-0 win against Souths). Another Parramatta player to standout was Western Australia winger Matthew Petersen. He is starting to emerge as a topline footballer since leaving the Cowboys.

The Bulldogs will be impressed to get back on the winners circle and also put another nail into the Parramatta coffin.


Data provided by Clint Crofts