Bulldogs v Warriors: Five key points
An unyielding Canterbury Bulldogs got past the Warriors 24-12 to register their first win of the 2017 NRL Telstra Premiership season on Friday night. Here are the five key points from the Round 3 encounter at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Defence a feature again for Canterbury
For the second time in three games this season the Bulldogs held a team to 12 points across 80 minutes.
The Bulldogs restricted the Warriors to just two tries on Friday night, following on from a Round 1 result which saw them keep Melbourne to 12 points, albeit in a six-point loss.
Canterbury battled against a Warriors side that owned 53 per cent of the possession, missing only 17 tackles on a night where they faced constant pressure on their line.
Kiwi forward Greg Eastwood, who played his 150th game in a Bulldogs jersey, said it was the most pleasing thing to come out of the result.
"The first 20 we just defended our line and then even in the second half it was the same," Eastwood told bulldogs.com.au.
"Our defence is massive, we haven't let too many tries in and that is something to be positive about."
Second-half blues strike Warriors again
In all three of their matches this season the Warriors have leaked exactly 14 points in the second halves of games.
In each example the New Zealand side's second 40 minutes has been inferior to their first, marking what is potentially a serious issue for coach Stephen Kearney.
Despite trailing the Bulldogs at half-time, the Warriors were in a strong position to go on and claim the match, but fell away badly in the final quarter of the match to leak a pair of tries.
Post-match Kearney said it was the Warriors' downfall in Dunedin.
"It was pretty disappointing, particularly the second half," Kearney said.
"I was just really disappointed with the way we fell away in that second half."
Bulldogs pack won the key battle
Despite being on the wrong side of momentum for much of the match, the Bulldogs pack battled against the tide to allow their team to make the most of limited opportunities with the ball.
Canterbury's starting forwards ran for a combined 681 metres in Dunedin, almost 100 more than the Warriors' 588, gifting the likes of Moses Mbye and Josh Reynolds some added time and space on the Steeden.
Kangaroos representative David Klemmer was the pick of the bunch for the home side, powering through for 203 metres off 20 carries, while Sam Kasiano added key spark from the bench, attracting multiple defenders on his carries and often getting to a quick play-the-ball.
Montoya navigates nerves in memorable debut
While Bradley Abbey experienced a couple of horror moments under the high ball in a mixed first outing at first-grade level, the same couldn't be said for fellow debutante Marcelo Montoya on the right wing.
With 101 metres off 10 carries, Montoya had already enjoyed a fine night at the office before he crossed for Canterbury's third try of the match in the 66th minute.
Playing opposite veteran Warrior Manu Vatuvei for much of the match, Montoya overcame a heavy dose of pre-match nerves to answer almost every question thrown at him.
"I think I was having an anxiety attack back at the hotel, I was very nervous," Montoya told bulldogs.com.au.
"[But] I thought if I get in there for an early run I'd be alright."
Warriors stutter in attack
The Warriors had more than enough ball in attacking territory to win the match, but continuously failed to convert positive field positioning into points.
At one stage midway through the second half the New Zealand side had been tackled more than 50 times in the opposition 20, but had only one try to show for it.
With four errors on last tackles, veteran Simon Mannering lamented his side's poor finish to sets.
"It was a matter more of just building pressure, we don't expect to score points on every play but if we keep building pressure the points will come," Mannering told Fox Sports.
"We just let them off too many times and couldn't sustain that pressure.
"They defended really well for a large majority on their line and managed to hold us out a fair few times."