ROUND 10 - 2003

Date 17th May 2003
Venue WIN Stadium
Coach Steve Folkes
Captain Steve Price
Referee Paul Simpkins
Crowd 11555
Bulldogs V Dragons
18 16
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Scorers

Player Tries Goals F Goals Points
Ben Harris 2 0 0 8
Hazem El Masri 0 3 0 6
Travis Norton 1 0 0 4

Match Review

Canterbury have won their 3rd successive tough match defeating the Dragons 18-16 at Win Stadium. The relentless rain that had been around since Tuesday disappeared just in time for the 5:30pm clash but the crowd unfortunately stayed away due to the terrential conditions of the previous week.

The Bulldogs made a strong start to the match with Travis Norton scoring in the 3rd minute from another precise grubber kick from Brent Sherwin. Hazem El Masri was successful with the conversion to give Canterbury a 6-0 lead.

Brent Kite got the Dragons back into the match with a try in the 12th minute after Bulldogs fullback Luke Patten watched a 40-20 kick bounce into touch. Mark Riddell had a chance to level the scores but was wide with the kick.

The Bulldogs received a fair and correct penalty in the 35th minute after Johnathan Thurston was taken out of play when Chris Leikvoll went out of his way to drop the elbow into Thurston and was knocked to the ground after running into Lance Thompson. The incident may see Nathan Brown fined and of course drummed up big by the tabloids but Leikvoll did move out of his way to collect Thurston and the penalty was warrented.

Enter Ben Harris.

The 19-year-old centre, who is only filling in for Willie Talau turned the match on the head with two pieces of brilliance. Harris sliced through the Dragons defence and stepped around fullback Ben Hornby to score under the posts.

Virtually straight away from the kick off, Harris found space down the left wing and passed inside to Corey Hughes. Harris stayed alive in the movement and backed up to score another great try. El Masri converted both tries including the 2nd Harris try from the sideline to give Canterbury an 18-4 lead at the break.

Harris is making it virtually impossible for Steve Folkes to drop him from the squad when Talau returns from injury in the next week or two. Harris signed a three-year deal last week and Steve Mortimer must be laughing since his price tag would have increased rapidly after finishing on top of Justin Hodges and Mark Gasnier in successive weeks.

St George on the back of nearly double the possession in the second half piled on the pressure with the Bulldogs defence called on to do plenty of work. John Cross scored in the 55th minute to bring the Dragons back into the match.

The extra defence Canterbury had to do was starting to tell when Shaun Timmins crossed over in the 75th minute to setup a thrilling finish. The Bulldogs defence just held on despite great pressure from the Dragons.

Overall the Bulldogs had to make 390 tackles compared to the Dragons 290 and in the second half it was 217-118. Brown can say all he wants but with that much possession, the Saints should have scored alot more than three tries.

Best three players for the Bulldogs undoubtably were Harris, captain Steve Price and lock Travis Norton. Price again produced a super-human 80 minute effort with 47 tackles and 19 hitups. Norton was strong with 44 tackles and of course Harris turned the match inside out with sheer brilliance in a magical five minute period plus his defence was punishing as always.

Thompson was easily the best for St George with 46 tackles and 21 hitups. Thompson started the season slowly but has found his best form following the face slapping incident, which has been described in some circles as the day Brown slapped the complacency out of the St George Illawarra club.

The Dragons tried their best, had plenty of possession - especially in the second half but in the end couldn't excute that into points. The Bulldogs hung on bravely in defence and it was their defence that got them the two points.

Canterbury will play premiership leaders Brisbane at Telstra Stadium in a blockbuster this Friday night at Telstra Stadium. Officials will be hoping for some dry weather as the clubs four previous Telstra Stadium games have been affected by wet weather.

St George will turn the clock back into history when they do battle against South Sydney at the Sydney Cricket Ground. It's great to see Rugby League being played on the hallowed turf. The SCG is still the home of Rugby League in Australia and more matches should be played at the grand old lady.

Hopefully both matches will see a big crowds turn up at two contrasting venues. Telstra Stadium is home of the current Grand Finals while the Sydney Cricket Ground was known as "headquarters" until the end of 1987 and it's been a shame very few matches have been played at the magical venue since.

Source: www.rleague.com

Data provided by Clint Crofts