Bulldogs too good for scrappy Warriors
The Canterbury Bulldogs opened their 2017 NRL Telstra Premiership account with a 24-12 victory over the Warriors on Friday night.
The Bulldogs' Round 3 'home' match at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin was a stop-start affair, with a Brett Morris double helping Canterbury to come from behind twice and seal their first win in seven games.
It was a victory built off defence for Des Hasler's side, after surviving long periods without the ball and numerous sets camped against their own line.
The Warriors had enjoyed the lion's share of possession in the opening exchanges, but were unable to convert on a number of scoring opportunities.
Ken Maumalo blew a golden chance on 11 minutes when he fumbled a Shaun Johnson grubber over the line, but a short time later Bodene Thompson made no such mistake.
After David Klemmer was pinged for a high shot the Warriors marched down field, with Thompson finding himself in the right place at the right time to dive on a Tuimoala Lolohea grubber.
It was a penalty of their own which led to the Bulldogs hitting back on the half hour, after Moses Mbye stood up Sam Lisone to dart over for a try which he converted.
A swift left-side movement two minutes from the break finished with Brett Morris finding a gap and racing over to give his side a 10-6 advantage at half-time.
Just as they had in the first period, the visitors dominated play early in the second stanza, enjoying multiple sets camped in attacking territory but coming away with nothing.
Finally after 20 minutes of a second half where they had nines set with the ball, almost all of which started in the Bulldogs' half, the Warriors broke through after Thompson passed inside to Johnson for an untouched run to the line.
Johnson converted for a 12-10 lead, but the joy lasted only four minutes as Canterbury winger Marcelo Montoya scored a try on debut, which Mbye converted to give the hosts a four-point buffer once again.
After Lolohea coughed up a towering bomb the Bulldogs were awarded a penalty next to the uprights, with Mbye kicking the penalty to make it 18-12 with eight minutes remaining.
Brett Morris iced the result with his second try three minutes from time.
Canterbury Bulldogs 24 (Moses Mbye, Brett Morris x2, Marcelo Montoya tries; Mbye 4 goals) lead New Zealand Warriors 12 (Bodene Thompson, Shaun Johnson try; Johnson 2 goals) at Forsyth Barr Stadium. Half-time: 10-6.