The Bulldogs got themselves out of a 5 game losing slump and gate crashed the Darren Lockyer party with a 26-18 upset NRL win at Suncorp Stadium. With an impressive Brisbane crowd in excess of 35,000 on hand to usher Lockyer back into the game, the party never got started until late in the game – with the Dogs running out leaders and never surrendering; ensuring the NRL table remains crowded as we head towards the back end of the season.
The Brisbane Broncos to their credit fought back from 20-8 down to only trail by 20-18 before Bulldogs winger Heka Nanai dived over in the lefthand corner for the match-winning try in the 77th minute. The Dogs did it the hard way, just like last week against South Sydney. The Belmore boys seemed to get the wobbles with the finish line in-sight. Poor errors from custodian Brent Crisp and Ben Roberts left their side to defend wave after wave of Broncos attack at the back end of the game.
As the Broncos eventually cracked the tiring Dogs defence, it looked set to be 20-all – but a crucial miss for conversion from Michael Ennis saw the Bulldogs keep a 2 point lead. It wasn’t a difficult kick and miss proved extremely costly for the home side, the Bulldogs rallied and eventually scored off a switch play – allowing the 77th minute touch down to Nanai in the extreme corner of Lang Park.
Hazem El Masri landed a pressure sideline conversion to ensure the Bulldogs a much needed two NRL points. The breathing space was finally back and the Dogs rode out the final minutes to take the win.
Eventually an exciting game, it was locked up at 8-8 at halftime and the 2nd half took the game from an average affair to an exciting one. Sonny Bill Williams was tireless for the Bulldogs. The talented backrower taking a much more senior and busy role within the young side and throwing himself into everything. A couple of big plays were pulled off by Sonny Bill, a retrieval from the in-goal with minutes remaining to crash his way back into the field of play ensure the pressure valve was lifted off his side – and off most Brisbane breaks, you had SBW cover defending or slapping at the ball to force a turnover a mammoth effort from the no. 11 and deserving of the man of the match for his side.
The Bulldogs victory continued an amazing weekend of upsets which started on Friday night when the Gold Coast shocked the ladder-leading Roosters.
The good news for Brisbane was that Lockyer appeared to come through his comeback game without any apparent problems with his right knee. However backrower Toni Carroll suffered a leg injury late and couldn’t see out the game; with further scans and extent of the injury expected to be known tomorrow.
Brisbane utility Nick Emmett however was taken to hospital with a suspected dislocated ankle.
The win by the Bulldogs ensures the race for the Top 8 in NRL season 2008 remains close. A host of teams are set to fight it out for spots 3 to 8 in a race that is wide open at this stage.