ROUND 1 - 2005

Date 11th Mar 2005
Venue ANZ Stadium
Coach Steve Folkes
Captain Andrew Ryan
Referee Paul Simpkins
Crowd 33105
Bulldogs V Dragons
46 28
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Scorers

Player Tries Goals F Goals Points
Hazem El Masri 0 7 0 14
Andrew Ryan 2 0 0 8
Braith Anasta 1 0 0 4
Tony Grimaldi 1 0 0 4
Corey Hughes 1 0 0 4
Jamaal Lolesi 1 0 0 4
Adam Perry 1 0 0 4
Matt Utai 1 0 0 4

Match Review

TEAM LINE-UP:

Luke Patten, Hazem El Masri, Jamaal Lolesi, Willie Tonga, Matt Utai, Braith Anasta, Brent Sherwin, Mark O'Meley, Adam Perry, Roy Asotasi, Sonny Bill Williams, Andrew Ryan, Tony Grimaldi.
Interchange: Chris Armit, Ben Czislowski, Nate Myles, Corey Hughes

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Source: www.smh.com.au

All that really matters in a game of football is what happens when it's still there to be won, and on that basis St George Illawarra have a lot to answer for after falling at the feet of the Bulldogs last night.

Sure, the Dragons didn't have a lot of ball in the first half and the things the Bulldogs tried always seemed to work while nothing came off for the opposition. But the bottom line is that when a team trails 28-0 at half-time it really has only itself to blame.

The fact the Dragons came back to outscore the Dogs in the second half didn't mean a lot in the big picture.

It was lucky for St George Illawarra that young superstar Sonny Bill Williams was only out there for 32 minutes before an ankle injury ended his night.

He delivered an outstanding performance for the Bulldogs before being forced off with what club officials later said wasn't a major problem.

Bulldogs prop Mark O'Meley was gone before half-time as well, with a calf strain. The exits of those two, on top of the fact Bulldogs forward Willie Mason did not play because of injury, evened up things after the Dragons had gone into the game without the injured trio of Trent Barrett, Jason Ryles and Mark Gasnier. But that was too late for the red-and-whites.

St George Illawarra had entered the game coming off a welter of bad publicity. The talk was that there was trouble in the camp, that coach Nathan Brown and his senior players weren't getting on. The coach, the players and the club's top officials all denied the rumours but the awful first-half performance couldn't help but make you think something was wrong.

The Bulldogs had been the subjects of plenty of publicity, too, but that was all contract stuff and whether Williams, Mason and Braith Anasta would stay or go. Water off a duck's back to a club that has been through the horrors the Bulldogs have been through in recent years. The speculation clearly had not hurt their preparation one bit.

St George Illawarra were effectively out of the game before they had even registered a challenge. Williams offloaded in tackles three times in the first six minutes - including twice in one set - and it wasn't until the 10th minute that he was finally prevented from getting the ball away by the defence. But that was not a genuine indication of a trend reversal, because two minutes later Williams carried the ball like a peanut in his giant right paw and offloaded untouched to five-eighth Anasta for him to score.

Hazem El Masri had kicked a penalty goal to open the scoring in the third minute and his conversion kicked the Bulldogs out to an 8-0 lead. Even at that early stage it was obvious the Dragons were in big trouble. Even the old piggyback down the ground through successive penalties from referee Paul Simpkins couldn't help them get over the line.

Kicks - first a chip and second a grubber - by Bulldogs halfback Brent Sherwin began the movements that led to tries by Matt Utai in the 17th minute and Andrew Ryan in the 28th.

Bulldogs lock Tony Grimaldi doesn't get a lot of tries but he was on the board for 2005 before half-time of round one.

That was how easy the Bulldogs found it to get in on the action before the Dragons finally came alive with three tries in the first 13 minutes of the second half.

Data provided by Clint Crofts