It took former Dragon Josh Morris to provide the wake-up call that Wayne Bennett’s Saints outfit needed. The jump-ship Morris scored in the early minutes of last nights game as the Bulldogs went on an early onslaught.
But Benny’s Dragons were good enough to ride out the early storm and eventually get away with a 19-6 away win at ANZ Stadium in front of another massive Friday night crowd – just under 40,000.
The NRL might be feeling the pressure with the Melbourne Storm saga still ringing in their ears and now the legal action, but otherwise, the quality of the NRL footy and of course the crowds have been amazing.
Almost 80,000 watched the Friday nights games live – with Sydney and Brisbane crowds turning out in big numbers to watch their teams go around in flagship games.
With a Bulldogs side still trying to prove itself for 2010 and a Dragons side trying to recover from a hiccup last week – it was the ideal setting. But 80 minutes later, we know that the Bulldogs still have a long way to go before they are serious top flight challengers this year and the Dragons remain a well-oiled machine when they have the desire.
The Bulldogs threw everything at the Dragons early. They came out the more eager and dominated – but apart from the Morris try, the Dogs wouldn’t get over the line again.
The Saints held tight, were patient – and were the men for the job to grind out a win.
The timing was ideal, with so many players throwing their hands up for Origin – there were plenty interested in old fox Matt Cooper and his battle with former Dragon Josh Morris, throw in young-bull Jamaal Idris – and you have a contest within the contest.
Morris got the early strike, Idris had some bone rattling defence – but ultimately, it was old-man Coops who proved he still has attacking qualities. Noted for his near League best defence, Cooper showed he has plenty of petrol left in the tanks after an impressive try – his attack just as good as his younger opponents.
But the underrated Ben Creagh deserves plenty of accolades for the red and whites. He remains such a hardworking forward, but always seems to pop up for tries and at critical times in big games. He’s a big match player and one that the Origin selectors should look hard at.
The Saints host the Raiders next week and will like their chances there, but the Bulldogs are off to Penrith in what will be a real tough clash for them.
The Bulldogs will be eager to secure a win next week, given the Broncos snapping at their heels on the ladder now and the Top 8 drifting away.
For the Dragons, they take even more comfort in the fact the Titans lost and they now sit as sole NRL ladder leaders.