Last Time Played: Bulldogs v Sharks
The Bulldogs defeated the Sharks 19-12 in a hard-fought Monday night clash at Toyota Stadium in Round 23 last year.
The visitors opened the scoring when lock Dean Halatau ran an inside line off a Trent Hodkinson pass to plunge over adjacent to the right upright for a 6-nil lead after 13 minutes.
The Sharks struck back when Nathan Gardner streaked through up the middle off an inside shift in the 34th minute – before Ben Barba broke Sharks fans’ hearts on the stroke of halftime with a 50-metre dash after receiving a popped ball from Greg Eastwood. There was some controversy surrounding the try, which sent the Bulldogs to the break with a 12-6 lead, with Eastwood felled but not held by the defence inside his own half before getting up and running again.
A Steve Turner penalty goal in the 58th minute extended the Bulldogs’ lead and when Turner crossed three minutes later in the right corner after fielding a Hodkinson chip kick the blue and whites looked comfortable leading 18-6.
However, Sharks interchange Sam Tagataese immediately bridged the gap to a converted try when he steamrolled through some flimsy defence from 20 metres out to make things interesting at 18-12 with 14 minutes remaining.
The following 10 minutes were tense before Hodkinson clinched the match with a field-goal from in front with two minutes left on the clock.
It was a big effort by Canterbury to overcome 35 missed tackles to still hold tight against the determined Sharks attack.
The Bulldogs owed their victory to some determined running from their back three and centres – with all five players topping triple figures in metres gained (Steve Turner leading the quintet with 142 on the night).
Paul Gallen was insatiable in his workload with 26 hit-ups for 223 metres, with three offloads and 29 tackles.