The Canterbury Bulldogs were in the doldrums. The Wests Tigers soaring high. Easy conclusion, yes? Well, it was the opposite.
The Bulldogs, who started the year 0-2, have notched their first win of the season at the hands of the Tigers.
Led by half Kieran Foran, who himself shook off an ankle injury, it was pretty much smooth sailing for the blue and white.
Although it is just one week, perhaps the re-signing of Dean Pay galvanised the roster and gave them some stability.
Completions went a long way towards the Bulldogs win, as they made just three errors in the entire match.
The first points did take a while to come but the Bulldogs would gain the momentum and three straight tries.
Reimis Smith capitalised first and finished off a nice play. Foran then bamboozled the Tigers defence and blasted his way over.
Prop Dylan Napa then put the Bulldogs further ahead when he powered over for his second try of the year.
Napa then turned provider as the Bulldogs ascendancy continued in the second half. Adam Elliott was the scorer here.
Desperate to get back into the game, the Tigers fought hard but it was not to be.
Esan Marsters and Mahe Fonua combined for their first try before Luke Garner pounced on a grubber with video ref confirmation.
It all came too little, too late, as the Bulldogs showed they can play well to win and win well.
With so much going on in recent times at the Bulldogs, coach Pay admits his re-signing released the tension around the club.
“It took a bit of the tension out of the place. That’s what it was,” Pay said.
“I could feel that coming through the players too. They were all rapt.
“We are a pretty tight group and we want to do well. We want to do well for our members and our fans but what we’ve got is what we’ve got.”
To make matters worse for the Tigers, Benji Marshall was forced from the field with a hamstring injury.
“He had a tight hamstring there so we’ll have to have a look at that and see how he goes,” Tigers coach Michael Maguire said.
“I’ll have to assess that now, it was fairly tight towards the end. I spoke to him and he said he wasn’t quite sure.
“We’ll go through the things we need to, being a short turnaround we’ll have our focus on what we need to do and I’ll assess the team as we go through the week.”
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Kieran Foran
2. Dylan Napa
- Josh Jackson