Bulldogs produce monumental upset against Broncos

Given Brisbane’s recent form, and the lowly position of their opponents on the ladder, many expected them to notch a dominant win, one that would have brought up coach Wayne Bennett’s 400th.

Despite trailing by just four points at the main break, the Broncos were never really in this. While they made uncharacteristic mistakes, many were the result of outstanding defensive pressure from the hosts. In a dominant second half, the underdogs didn’t even let Brisbane carry the football onto their side of halfway until there were nine minutes remaining.

Bennett didn’t see the poor performance coming.

“If I could give you that answer, I would have made sure it didn’t happen,” he said.

“I’m extremely disappointed by it. They had all the enthusiasm and all the energy and that type of stuff. We were just lacking in those areas.”

In securing the win, the blue and whites have not only claimed a huge scalp but also gone a long way towards avoiding the spoon.  

“The boys played really well, I’m really happy with them,” coach Dean Pay said.

“We’ve got some young guys developing into good players and they will continue to do that. That’s where we’re at, we’re getting a bit of confidence out of each and every performance we put in. We’re delighted with the result, that’s for sure.

“It was our best performance.”

It is a shame that the sideline incident could overshadow the performance. The poor old referees have been copping it from all angles and may now have copped an earful from a club official.

“We will look into it any comments that were made towards the referee,” an NRL spokesperson said.

Already missing the suspended David Klemmer and the injured trio of Kieran Foran, Marcelo Montoya and Raymond Faitala-Mariner, the Bulldogs overcame the additional blow of losing their five-eighth. Frawley made the most of the opportunity. He scored a smart try that secured his side a match-winning lead and combined seamlessly with Lewis.

The latter was particularly impressive. In just his sixth first-grade game, he chopped down the big Brisbane forwards that tried to target him and still had enough in reserve to pose a threat with the football. While much has been made of his family links – he is the nephew of the great Wally Lewis – it’s understood his tackling technique was honed tackling tyres under the watchful eye of other relatives.

The problems at Canterbury are many, but making metres is not one of them. No side has run for more metres this season, a nod to a forward pack that no longer contains James Graham, Sam Kasiano or Aaron Woods. Converting that advantage into points, and wins, has been an issue, but not on Thursday night.

Josh Jackson was particularly dominant. He made 16 hit-ups for 131 metres and also showed a superb set of hands that had at times seen him play in the halves.

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Perhaps the figure of most concern was the crowd. Drawing fans on a school night is difficult at the best of times, let alone when an out-of-town team plays a lowly one. The official attendance was posted as 6434 as only diehard Dogs made the trek to ANZ Stadium. This is a performance that deserved a wider audience.

It has been a tough old season for the Bulldogs, but there is still much to play for. The battle to avoid the bottom is as tense as that at the pointy end of the ladder. Surely they are not the worst team in the league? They have given a reasonable account of themselves most weeks, but have lacked the polish to finish off games. On this occasion, they did just that.

CANTERBURY 36 (M Frawley W Hopoate J Jackson B Morris J Morris tries R Martin 8 goals) bt BRISBANE 22 (K Sims 2 J Isaako A Milford tries J Isaako 3 goals) at ANZ Stadium. Referees: Ben Cummins, Peter Gough. Crowd: 6434.

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