It was a win that left Canterbury Bulldogs coach Des Hasler pleased but a win that came over a Melbourne Storm side missing their Origin stars and the injured Gareth Widdop.
Despite all that, it was an electrifying performance from fill-in centre Tim Lafai, who single handedly tore up the makeshift Storm back-line, as he, Ben Barba and some other Dogs players produced solid performances to guide the Dogs to an easy 39-0 win over the Storm.
It was a try-scoring spree for the Dogs, as Sam Perrett scored a hat-trick and Mitch Brown a double, with several other players chiming in with tries of their own.
With a reconfigured bench for NSW, Josh Reynolds made his return to the Bulldogs side and was a key player in the game for the Dogs along with fellow half Trent Hodkinson.
“The boys were disappointed after the Newcastle game in Mackay (losing 18-12) and wanted to make it right today and get back in the winners’ circle,” Hasler said.
“Both sides were without players but the Storm missed their big three. But we still had to get the result.
“The points help our for and against so it was good day all round.”
With possible disappointment lingering in his mind following his release from the Levitra Origin side, Hasler was pleased with how Josh Reynolds responded in the game.
“He’s a positive kid Josh, he’s been part of it,” he said.
“He’s always optimistic and he’ll go back in as 18th man and who knows what’ll happen between now and Wednesday.
“He was alright when he rang me. He just loves playing football.”
There was a case for him to be sin-binned, however, when he took out Storm centre Justin O’Neill without the ball after a grubber had been put through – something Hasler saw as lucky for Reynolds.
“It could have gone either way,” he said.
“He could have been sin-binned, or it could have been a penalty or a penalty try.”
Although Craig Bellamy refused to put the loss down to the fact that his side was missing their Origin players, he thought Reynolds should have been sent to the bin.
“We made it tough on ourselves all day,” he said.
“Our defence was poor and we kept giving the ball away in our half.
“But if that’s not a sin bin then I don’t know what is. But it’s not why we lost the game.
“At the end of the day it wasn’t going to change the result.”
3. Tim Lafai
2. Ben Barba
1. Trent Hodkinson