Josh Reynolds’ mammoth 38 points helped secure the minor premiership for the Bulldogs against a Melbourne side who were going to finish seventh irrespective of todays result.
The Bulldogs showed that they came to play in one of the most devastating opening halves of football for the year. Just five minutes into the match, Taakimoeaka busted through the Storm defence, passed left to Cutler who ran 20 metres and almost scored before being pulled down agonisingly close to the tryline by Widdop. A quick play the ball allowed Jack to scoop up the ball from dummy half and barge over next to the posts. Reynolds converted for an early 6-0 lead.
From the kick-off, Canterbury made huge metres upfield with quick play the balls and powerful forward running. On the fourth tackle they were 30 metres from the Storm line. Reynolds drifted to the right, linking up with Cutler, who drew a defender before passing to Ielei who dived over in the right corner untouched. Reynolds converted the try from the sideline to take the Dogs out to a 12-0 lead after 8 minutes.
Again from the restart, Canterbury forged upfield. On the third tackle, a great offload by Williams put Cutler into space. Cutler ran 30 metres before getting a pass away to Reynolds, who ran 20 metres to score under the posts. Reynolds slotted an easy conversion, extending the lead to 18 after ten minutes.
Rhys Jack scored an easy try five minutes later when a Reynolds cross kick bounced off the upright back into the field of play. Jack scooped up the loose ball and scored under the posts. Reynolds converted yet another Dogs try.
On the fourth tackle after the restart, Williams made half a break and got a ball away to Rauicava, who stepped back in-field and 30 metres downfield, before drawing Widdop and passing to Ielei who scored his second try on the right side. Reynolds conversion again successful, and after just 18 minutes the Bulldogs lead 30-0.
Five minutes later, Jack kicked early in the set and picked up a 40/20. From the scrum the Bulldogs pushed up the middle. A clever change of direction from dummy half by Smith, who dummied left before passing right to Taakimoeaka who barged over under the posts to score. Reynolds potted another easy conversion.
A sloppy pass from dummy half which went behind Isa, was scooped up by Ielei who ran 40 metres downfield. With Widdop bearing down on him, Ielei attempted a pass back inside to Rauicava but it was knocked down and cleaned up by Widdop.
Melbourne, on the back of a penalty and some good running, saw them on attack just 5 metres from the Bulldogs line for the first time in the game. However a well anticipated intercept by Reynolds saw him run 90 metres to score under the posts. He converted the try to take the lead out to 42.
With halftime about to sound, Canterbury were on the attack again, but Chisholm intercepted a loose pass and ran 95 metres to score untouched. Widdop converted the try and at halftime the Bulldogs lead 42-6.
In the second half, Canterbury continued with their attacking play when Tia-Kilifi found space down the left wing but ran out of space and attempted a pass inside but it went to ground and was cleaned up by the Storm cover defence.
Melbourne were again under another Bulldogs attacking raid, however a drop out restart by Widdop relieved them when it cleared the defenders standing on halfway. The ball bounced it’s way down to the Dogs 10 metres line.
Widdop made a break down the left wing before kicking infield for his support, but the ball was cleaned up by Cutler.
A gift scrum for Canterbury deep inside the Storm half provided them with yet another golden opportunity, Reynolds drifted left from the scrum, passed to Jack who passed to Ielei who slipped through the retreating defence and scored out in the left corner. Reynolds conversion attempt from the sideline was unsuccessful.
Five minutes later Melbourne hit back when Widdop dived over in the left corner from dummy half. Dane Chisholm converted the try and after 62 minutes, the Storm trailed by 34.
A loose pass from dummy half by Woolford went behind Kelly. Reynolds rushed through and kicked the loose ball ahead twice, before diving on the ball to score to the left of the posts. Reynolds converted his third try.
Three minutes later, Jack shrugged out of two tackles before getting a pass away to Browne who ran 10 metres to score under the posts. Reynolds converted to take the score out to 58-12.
In the last 5 minutes of the match, the Storm players began showing their frustrations as a number of fights began flaring up. Eventually it got too much for referee Henderson, who sent off Hitchcox and sent Smith to the Sin Bin for 10 minutes for fighting.
With just 2 minutes remaining, Reynolds put through a grubber for himself, collected the ball and scored under the posts. As he scored the try, yet another fight started up in back play. The referee awarded an 8 point try. Reynolds converted the try and potted the penalty goal from in front to take the score out to 66-12. The game came to an end 1 minute later as the rain began to pour down and tempers looked about to flare up again.
1 Gareth Widdop
2 Maeli Seve
3 Willie Isa
4 Bennett Leslie
5 Dane Chisholm
6 Rory Kostjasyn
7 Luke Kelly (c)
8 Sione Kite
9 James Woolford
10 Jesse Bromwich
11 Robbie Rochow
12 Atelea Vea
13 Billy Rogers
14 Sinbad Kali
15 Dale Langford
17 Fred Makimare
22 Jy Hitchcox
1 Trent Cutler
2 Kose Ielei
3 Shane Neumann
4 Daniel Rauicava
5 Junior Tia-Kilifi
6 Rhys Jack
7 Josh Reynolds
8 Brad Morrin
9 Nathan Smith
10 Tim Browne
11 Daniel Harrison
12 Yileen Gordon
13 Danny Williams
14 Nathan Dib
15 Harlan Alaalatoa
17 Corey Payne
22 Conrad Taakimoeaka
WHEN THEY SCORED
5th min - Canterbury 6-0 – Jack try, Reynolds goal
8th min - Canterbury 12-0 – Ielei try, Reynolds goal
10th min - Canterbury 18-0 – Reynolds try, Reynolds goal
16th min - Canterbury 24-0 – Jack try, Reynolds goal
18th min - Canterbury 30-0 – Ielei try, Reynolds goal
24th min - Canterbury 36-0 – Taakimoeaka try, Reynolds goal
32nd min - Canterbury 42-0 – Reynolds try, Reynolds goal
40th min - Canterbury 42-6 – Chisholm try, Widdop goal
58th min - Canterbury 46-6 – Ielei try
62nd min - Canterbury 46-12 – Widdop try, Chisholm goal
69th min - Canterbury 52-12 – Reynolds try, Reynolds goal
72nd min - Canterbury 58-12 – Browne try, Reynolds goal
78th min - Canterbury 64-12 – Reynolds try, Reynolds goal
79th min - Canterbury 66-12 – Reynolds goal
CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN 66 (Reynolds 4, Ielei 3, Jack 2, Taakimoeaka, Browne tries; Reynolds 11 goals)
MELBOURNE 12 (Widdop, Chisholm tries, Widdop, Chisholm goals)
Referee: Phil Henderson
Half-Time: Canterbury-Bankstown 42-6
Scrums: Melbourne 7-6
Penalties: Canterbury-Bankstown 8-3
Goal Kickers: Reynolds (Canterbury-Bankstown) 11 from 12, Chisholm (Melbourne) 1 from 1, Chisholm (Melbourne) 1 from 1
****This match report appeared in Rugby League News magazine****