ROUND 11 - 2006

Date 21st May 2006
Venue ANZ Stadium
Coach Steve Folkes
Captain Tony Grimaldi
Referee Tony Archer
Crowd 12728
Bulldogs V Sharks
32 24
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Scorers

Player Tries Goals F Goals Points
Hazem El Masri 1 6 0 16
Matt Utai 2 0 0 8
Daniel Holdsworth 1 0 0 4
Willie Tonga 1 0 0 4

Match Review

TEAM LINE-UP:

1. Luke Patten, 2. Hazem El Masri, 3. Cameron Phelps, 4. Willie Tonga, 5. Matt Utai, 6. Daniel Holdsworth, 7. Brent Sherwin, 8. Chris Armit, 9. Corey Hughes, 10. Roy Asotasi, 11. Tony Grimaldi, 12. Sonny Bill Williams, 13. Reni Maitua.
Interchange: 14. Billy Ngawini, 15. Dallas McIlwain, 16. Brad Morrin, 17. Jarrad Hickey

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Source: AAP

The Bulldogs survived a remarkable Cronulla fightback to hold on for a thrilling 32-24 victory in a spiteful NRL clash at Telstra Stadium.

Down 26-6 with 15 minutes remaining, the Sharks scored four tries in the space of eight minutes to close the gap to 26-24.

The Bulldogs had been reduced to 11 men during part of that period, but kept their nerve in the closing minutes before securing their fourth straight win with a try to centre Willie Tonga on fulltime.

The loss brought an end to Cronulla's own four-match winning streak, but coach Stuart Raper would have to be pleased with the way his side stayed in the contest.

While the possibility of crowd violence was a major concern for officials before the game, the only sign of trouble was on the field, with Bulldogs second rower Sonny Bill Williams and Cronulla centre Phil Bailey both spending 10 minutes in the sin-bin for fighting.

If only the Sharks showed as much fight in defence, with the Bulldogs finding plenty of space both up the middle and out wide.

The visitors looked most dangerous early, but the Bulldogs took advantage of their first real foray into enemy territory with a long Daniel Holdsworth pass finding an unmarked Matt Utai out wide.

Holdsworth did it all himself in the 19th minute to extend the Dogs lead to 10-0, the impressive pivot beating three players from 30 metres out for an embarrassingly soft four-pointer, with Luke Covell kicking out on the full from the restart to compound the Sharks woes.

Cronulla finally got itself into the contest on the back of consecutive penalties, Bailey then selling Williams a massive dummy before diving over from dummy half to cut the margin to six points before a Hazem El Masri penalty goal put the Bulldogs up 14-6 at the break.

The Sharks had to be the first to score if they were to be any chance of mounting a comeback, but instead it was the Bulldogs who seemingly put the match beyond doubt with 12 points in as many minutes, wingers El Masri and Utai both crossing out wide.

But with both Williams and Bailey already in the sin bin, the match came to life when Holdsworth joined them for repeated infringements in the 66th minute, the Sharks racing in two tries to Luke Covell and Matt Hilder while the Dogs were down to just 11 men to make it 26-16 with 12 minutes remaining.

With Williams and Bailey back on the field, the Bulldogs were unable to stop the rot, Greg Bird going over from close range and David Simmons acrobatically collecting a Kimmorley kick to cut the margin to just two.

Covell, though, missed his final three conversion attempts to complete a miserable two-from-five effort with the boot.

Data provided by Clint Crofts