It was well over a year ago that these two sides last met, in Round 3 last season, and what differing paths their years would take. But although it would be a few weeks yet before Canterbury’s charge to the minor premiership would really kick into gear, the signs of what would come were all there as the Bulldogs came away with an impressive 34-18 win.
In an NRL thriller, the Bulldogs burst out of the blocks and raced to an early 16-0 lead through long-range tries to Ben Barba and Steve Turner and a spectacular Jonathan Wright try following a break from Barba.
But the Warriors weren’t going down without a fight as Feleti Mateo came to the fore. Mateo set up his side’s opener with a fantastic short ball for James Maloney to race through and score, did it again for Sione Lousi to crash over from close range and after going to the break down by just four, ensured the Warriors took the lead for the first time in the 51st minute when he scored a try of his own.
That effort seemed to speak the Bulldogs back to life. Big Sam Kasiano restored order when he was too strong to stop close to the line and after pulling off a miracle try-saver to prevent Kevin Locke from scoring, Barba produced yet another big play as he gathered a grubber in his own in-goal and raced up-field – the Warriors defence unable to regroup as Wright scored his second. Joel Romelo then added the icing with a late team try.
The Bulldogs enjoyed 53 per cent possession and ran for 1745 metres to just 1289 by the Warriors.
Barba was superb for the victors with 196 metres, eight tackle-breaks and three line-breaks while Sam Kasiano added 145 metres and 12 tackle-breaks.
Mateo contributed 114 metres, three line-break assists and two try assists for the Warriors.