The Canterbury Bulldogs have gone one step closer to avoiding the dreaded wooden spoon, whilst the New Zealand Warriors have all but cost themselves a chance at a top 4 finish.
In a game that had a lot of meaning for both sides, the Bulldogs have come out on top, thanks to a late field goal from the birthday boy Lachlan Lewis.
When the Warriors took an early 6-0 lead after a slick inside ball from Shaun Johnson to send Gerard Beale over, it looked like they may have been on their way to another victory.
But after they let the ball go into touch from a Bulldogs goal line drop out, then gave away a soft penalty, Lachlan Lewis provided a beautiful inside ball to Adam Elliott to get the Bulldogs first try of the afternoon.
Two minutes later, Reimis Smith made a break through the Warriors defence.
On the next play, David Fusitu’a dropped an intercept giving the Bulldogs the ball back.
A few tackles later Michael Lichaa, sent Reimis Smith over after a missed tackle from Simon Mannering.
Rhyse Martin converted, giving the Bulldogs took a 12-6 lead.
Brett Morris was taken into touch after defusing a high Shaun Johnson bomb.
Back-to-back penalties to the Warriors gave Shaun Johnson the chance to pass to Isaiah Papali’l, who with a glorious offload sent Roger Tuivasa-sheck over for a much needed Warriors try.
Johnson converted, tying it up at 12 all.
A tough call then ensued when a knock-on was called against the Warriors, despite the ball seemingly ricocheting off a Bulldogs hand.
Martin converted the penalty goal and gave the Bulldogs a 14-12 lead.
Just before the break, Kerrod Holland, Will Hopoate and Lachlan Lewis combined for the birthday boy to score a try.
Martin converted once again, and gave the Bulldogs a handy 20-12 halftime lead.
With a second half that started the same way as the first half, it was the Warriors who again drew first blood.
A try to David Fusitu’a after some great lead up play. Johnson was unable to convert from the sideline.
When a Johnson kick was charged down, it gave the Bulldogs great field position.
It was over to the Morris twins to have a say on this game, Brett leaped high to bat down a Lewis bomb to brother Josh who went over to score untouched.
Martin converted again, handing the Bulldogs a 10-point lead.
Everybody knows this Warriors team will not lay down, and it was once again Shaun Johnson who stepped up the plate.
Taking on the Bulldogs line, he double pumped and delivered a glorious ball out to David Fusitu’a giving the winger his second try of the afternoon.
This try saw Fusitu’a become the quickest Warriors player to reach 50 NRL tries.
Johnson was unable to convert the try, and the Bulldogs held onto a 6 point lead with just over 20 minutes left to play.
In what was an arm wrestle for the last 20 minutes, both sides were making crucial errors, and giving away penalties.
It was the Warriors who again would score after a break by Isaac Luke.
He linked up with Adam Blair who offloaded to Peta Hiku who would score the try the Warriors desperately needed.
Johnson converted the try, locking the game up at 26 all with 4 minutes to play.
Unfortunately, for the Warriors they were unable to get into any field position to have a chance at taking a field goal.
The birthday boy stepped up to the plate, however, slotting the winning field goal from roughly 35m out.
The win gave the Bulldogs a much needed victory 27-26, and keeps them away from the dreaded wooden spoon for another week.
Player of the game:
David Klemmer (Bulldogs) – 3
Lachlan Lewis (Bulldogs) – 2
Simon Mannering (Warriors) – 1