The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have staved off a desperate comeback from Parramatta to register their first win for the 2013 season, a 20-16 success over the Eels at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium.
The 2012 runners-up were quick out of the blocks, scoring two tries in the opening ten minutes before anyone could really blink. Josh Jackson went in first after five minutes, and Mitch Brown following up three minutes later, to send the Bulldogs out to an early 10-0 lead.
It would not take long for Parramatta, impressive last week against the Warriors, to score their first points, through Matthew Ryan off a Chris Sandow kick. The successfully converted try brought the scoreline back to 10-6, and by the 18th minute scores were level at 10-all after Cheyse Blair scored his first try of the evening.
But the Bulldogs would hit back shortly, through Josh Reynolds in the 21st minute. Already, five tries were scored in the first 20 minutes of the match at a rate of a try every four minutes.
This was a showcase of both poor defence and great attacking play from last year’s first-placed and last-placed teams.
Sam Perrett scored in the 30th minute to take the Bulldogs out to a 20-10 lead, but that would be the Bulldogs’ last scoring act for the match.
The Eels reduced the gap through Blair’s second try, successfully converted by Sandow, to 20-16 just before half-time, and that would be the last modification to the scoreboard.
The second half showcased desperation from both clubs as the Eels tried to take the lead and the Bulldogs tried to land the killer-blow.
Parramatta continued to press the Bulldogs line but with less than 15 minutes remaining an open try went begging after the referee ruled a forward pass.
Then, in the final minute, the Bulldogs had a disallowed try of their own, leaving Parramatta with 27 seconds left to find a miracle.
But they could not find a way past the Bulldogs’ defensive line and the blue-and-whites ran out 20-16 winners.
Tonight’s loss for Parramatta shouldn’t dishearten fans, though it could be argued the club took too much confidence from last week’s win over the Warriors into this match.
But it could be losses like these that could cost the Eels a place in the finals later on in the season. The only way from here is up for them but a loss next week could start seeing fans grow impatient.
For the Bulldogs, their dominance at ANZ Stadium continues, with the club winning its 11th match in their last 12 starts (the only loss came in last year’s decider).
It also proves that they are not missing Ben Barba, who could be back as soon as next week, pending his recovery from rehabilitation. Josh Jackson and Mitch Brown did perform admirably, though, and it’ll be hard to drop either player given their contribution for the team tonight.
Both teams are away next week, as the Bulldogs head down south to face the Melbourne Storm in a rematch of last year’s grand final, while the Eels head east to face the Wests Tigers.