In wet conditions, it was the experience of Brett Kimmorley and Michael Ennis that proved the difference for the Bulldogs – who outlasted a fast finishing South Sydney side tonight at ANZ Stadium 14-12.
Man of the match Michael Ennis was busy all night, if he wasn’t running plays, he was antagonizing the Bunnies. This guy just loves his football and his high energy simply annoyed the hell out of Souths.
Ennis was the go to man setting up both early tries for the Dogs and kicking the match winning penalty goal late in the second term.
For the Bunnies, it was only their second loss of the season and no doubt the wet weather doesn’t seem to agree with their expansive play. Souths only started working things out too late in the piece, Sutton’s towering spiral bombs a nightmare for the Bulldogs back three – but there just wasn’t enough of them. Too many times Sandow chose the wrong option, putting the pressure on his own men.
Despite not being their free flowing best, the Bunnies nearly stole the show late in the piece – a late touchdown to Ed Pettybourne providing a heartstopping final 5 minutes – only the Ennis penalty goal the eventual difference.
The Bunnies again used Craig Wing from the bench, coach Taylor eventually hooking Sandow and slotting Wing into the no.7 role to try and leverage his experience. But the real underrated man for Souths seems to be this Pettybourne. The firey replacement forward is always giving the Bunnies the thrust they need, he doesn’t take a backward step and provides good go forward when he is on the park.
But earlier in the season, the Bunnies seemed to have more enthusiasm – tonight it was only coming from Ennis. The craft no.9 teased, baited and belted the Bunnies whenever he got the chance, they kept taking the bait and he continued to put them off their game. The energetic hooker nearly getting a try of his own late in the piece, but was controversially denied by the video referee in a very inconsistent call. The video decision ruling that Hodgson had assisted the try by pushing Souths players, while true – this happens multiple times a game and is never called a foul.
While Souths scored early, they couldn’t bottle the confidence. The immediately fell into the arm wrestle, and didn’t value possession as they should in horror conditions.
The match came to life after the Bulldogs second try, building on field position – the Dogs went over through skipper Andrew Ryan. The big forward setup beautifully by Ennis, making the most of a hole left by Chris Sandow right on the try line. But after the try, Souths hooker Iassac Luke slapped Ryan and the Dogs captain retaliated. It was then on for young and old, with Ennis in the thick of it – stirring the pot and the Lowe boys throwing their weight around for Souths.
This ultimately should have been an 8 point try – the referees agreeing that Issac Luke caused the flare up – hitting Ryan after the try, but they chose to just caution the Kiwi rake rather than award the penalty.
Luke was put on report over the incident, but the fracas failed to inspire the Bunnies to greater heights. They just don’t like the wet it seems.
New Bulldogs coach Kevin Moore heaped praise on his teams strong defence, feeling it was the difference in the game tonight. Moore also made mention of Ennis, throwing praise at the new Dogs rake.
“He’s been outstanding for us, all the way through the first 5 rounds” Moore confirmed.
“His combination with Brett Kimmorley is growing day by day.
“We’ve done a fair bit of work the last few weeks on our attack and tonight we showed some improvement.”
For the Bunnies, coach Taylor wasn’t too worried. He rarely looked phased during his control from the stands, he remained composed throughout (something rare these days from NRL coaches) and said his side would learn from tonights outing.
“We’ve got an enormous amount of improvement in us and we had similar issues tonight that we had a few weeks ago against Parramatta where we just didn’t take advantage of our opportunities,” Taylor said.
“We’re not finishing our sets off well enough at times”
Taylor confirming the Bunnies had plenty of ball early on and should have come away with more points. However, the Bulldogs defence does deserve some wraps here as they continued to repell the Bunnies raids.
Souths captain Roy Asotasi wasn’t as happy as coach Taylor.
Asotasi extremely frustrated with the mistakes from his boys.