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Sydney Roosters v Canterbury Bulldogs
Famous Matches

1974 grand final

Easts were overwhelming favourites to win the 1974 grand final. Bookmakers had installed them at 4/1 on to claim their first title in 29 years, despite their two-point loss to Canterbury only two weeks earlier. The Berries boasted a tough and experienced forward pack but unless they could starve the Roosters’ all-star backline of the ball, most experts believed they would be in for a long afternoon.

Gibson had his team primed to produce their best football of the season and not even a “whistle-whipping” from referee Bruyeres could divert them from their plan. It was the skipper, Artie Beetson who scored the first try, positioning himself to take a pass from fullback Russell Fairfax to cross near the posts midway through the first half.

Bruyeres caned the Roosters 9-3 in the first half penalties which allowed Berries’ centre Stan Cutler to capitalise with two goals, one a booming effort from 45 metres. But with little possession in the opening 40 minutes, the Roosters still managed to take a 7-4 lead to halftime. The penalty onslaught continued after the break and Easts’ defence was forced to battle on. Beetson had worked himself to a standstill and at times looked out on his feet, but he was not about to submit in one of the biggest games of his career.

The Roosters were dealt a blow 15 minutes from fulltime when dual international centre John Brass was concussed after a heavy collision, and although he was forced from the field, the Roosters scored only minutes later. Five-eighth John Peard, making a mighty contribution to the cause, launched a try for Brass’ centre partner Mark Harris, then converted to stretch the lead to 12-4. Successive penalty goals to Peard pushed the game beyond Canterbury’s reach before winger Bill Mullins completed the scoring with a try in the final minute.

Easts’ grand final-winning team was: Russell Fairfax; Jim Porter, John Brass, Mark Harris, Bill Mullins; John Peard, John Mayes; Ron Coote, Barry Reilly, Arthur Beetson (c), Ken Jones, Elwyn Walters, Ian Mackay. (Harry Cameron replaced Brass, Greg Bandiera replaced Mackay).

1980 grand final

A crushing 41-5 preliminary final win over Wests earned the Roosters a second crack at the Bulldogs in the grand final after they had lost the major semi-final but the outcome was no different. Easts’ attack was well contained by Canterbury’s rushing, umbrella-style defence and in 80 minutes the Roosters failed to make an impression on the Bulldogs’ line.

From the time Steve Gearin kicked a seventh-minute penalty goal, Canterbury were never headed. They scored two tries, the first by winger Chris Anderson after a pass that looked suspiciously forward and the second, in the final five minutes of the game, when Gearin claimed a spectacular mark from a Greg Brentnall kick and dived across the line to stretch the final score to 18-4.

2003 – Round 9: Bulldogs 32 - 26 Roosters
Dogs Win Blockbuster

Denied the right to challenge for the 2002 premiership after breaching the salary cap, the Bulldogs won bragging rights over premiers the Sydney Roosters with a last-ditch 32-26 win at Telstra Stadium.

A bullocking try to Bulldogs winger Matt Utai in the 78th minute broke a 26-all deadlock after a tense and dramatic match which had been billed as ‘the grand final that never was’.

This highly anticipated clash lived up to all of the pre-game hype. There were controversial decisions, a thrilling climax and a spate of uncharacteristic errors from both sides which only added to the drama.

The Bulldogs took a 14-8 lead to halftime but the Roosters gained the upper hand after the break and looked set to dominate until the Bulldogs produced the vital plays when they mattered most. Interchange back Johnathan Thurston scored a miraculous try to level the scores at 26-all and when extra-time beckoned, Sherwin orchestrated the match-winning try with a long cut-out pass to Utai.

Five-eighth Braith Anasta had set himself for a field goal when Sherwin chanced his arm on the cut-out pass. Utai stepped over winger Todd Byrne before evading Brett Finch, Anthony Minichiello and Justin Hodges to claim the decisive four-pointer.

In a dramatic post-script to the match video referee Michael Stone was sacked after his decision to award a crucial second-half try to Bulldogs second-rower Andrew Ryan was proven to be incorrect. Ryan was in front of Sherwin when the halfback placed a kick, 40 metres from the Roosters’ line. Minichiello fumbled as he tried to regather the ball and Ryan, who was within 10 metres of Minichiello, toed the ball ahead for the try. Referee Bill Harrigan referred the decision to Stone, who gave the try the green light.

Roosters coach Ricky Stuart was fuming at that decision and also accused Bulldogs captain Steve Price of ‘playing dead’ after being hit by Roosters centre Ryan Cross in the first half.

Amid celebrations in the Bulldogs’ dressing rooms, coach Steve Folkes refused to discuss the significance of the result in the context of the events of 2002 but acknowledged the importance of the win for his team, who went into the game with a record of four wins and four losses.

‘The only thing that [result] does prove is that we’re not a spent force,’ he said.
Anasta was more candid, admitting the victory did carry a special significance. ‘I’d be lying if I said it didn’t,’ he revealed.

2004 grand final

After wins in both lower grade deciders the Roosters were on track to achieve the first three grades triumph in 41 years when they led the Bulldogs 13-6 at halftime in the main game. Winger Chris Walker had scored from a well-rehearsed kick by Fittler and fullback Anthony Minichiello capitalised on a break by interchange forward Anthony Tupou to score shortly before halftime.

Coach Ricky Stuart warned his players that the Bulldogs would be desperate to score early in the second half. They were and the Roosters were powerless to stop them. Tries to wingers Matt Utai and Hazem El Masri within 13 minutes of the resumption swung the game irrevocably. The Bulldogs raced to a 16-13 lead, which they defended desperately to the finish.

The Roosters were guilty of a diabolical error rate after halftime which cruelled their chances. Denied his fairytale finish, Fittler generously conceded that the Bulldogs deserved the title. “When the game was there to be won they controlled the ball and we dropped it. That was the difference”.

2008 – Mason v Williams

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Headline-grabbing Roosters recruit Willie Mason had the last laugh over his former Bulldogs team-mates when he crossed for two tries in a 40-12 rout of the ‘Dogs at ANZ Stadium.

A record crowd for a Bulldogs’ home game of 36,526 turned out for one of the most anticipated regular season matches in years but the contest was effectively over by halftime when the visitors led 20-0. Mason stamped his intentions from the outset and picked up the first try when he charged onto a short ball from captain Craig Fitzgibbon to score in the 18th minute.

The Bulldogs had the better of the early exchanges but Mason’s four-pointer shifted the game’s momentum. The Roosters scored twice more by halftime to silence the partisan Bulldogs crowd.

“I was a bit nervous – like a State of Origin nerve,” Mason explained after the game. “You don’t know what to expect playing against your old side.”

The build-up to the game focused on the heavyweight clash between Mason and Bulldogs ace Sonny Bill Williams, especially after Williams claimed he had lost respect for Mason over his decision to leave the club.

But while Williams impressed on a badly beaten side there was no stopping the Roosters, who piled on four more tries in the second half.
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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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