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3 hours ago | Tim Costello
A gritty performance from last-placed Bulldogs saw them hold out the Sharks 14-12 at ANZ Stadium this afternoon.
The win was made all the more incredible by the fact the 'Dogs lost five-eighth Kieran Foran midway through the first half, and were reliant on rookie Jack Cogger and debutant Brandon Wakeham to control their attack.
The Sharks looked like they were off their game from the outset - Canterbury dominated the early stages and unlike in previous weeks, were able to convert that to points when Will Hopoate crossed after four minutes of play after a Foran high-ball on the last tackle.
Nick Meaney's conversion and a penalty goal a few minutes later meant the Bulldogs led 8-0 early.
Fast-forward to the 20 minute mark and the Bulldogs took further control of the contest when Foran put new signing Dallin Watene-Zelezniak into space, the Penrith import scoring his 42nd NRL try but first for his new club as the blue-and-white lead stretched to 14 points.
Incredibly, that would be the last points Canterbury scored, but they still managed to win the game through stoic defence, desperation late in the contest and the wayward goalkicking boot of Cronulla half Shaun Johnson.
From 14-0 down, the Sharks managed to steady the ship before halftime, with Sosaia Feki and Johnson both notching four-pointers, the latter of which was an obviously incorrect call as Briton Nikora had propelled the ball forward after advantage was played from a Bulldogs two-on-one strip.
Trailing 14-8 at halftime, Josh Dugan closed the margin to just two points after the break, scoring of a ricocheted Matt Moylan kick and the scoreline arrived at 14-12, where it would stay until the final siren - but not before Cronulla had one last shot in the final two minutes.
Jack Williams broke through into the backfield off a Cogger grubber on Canterbury's last tackle, and ran some 85 metres for the Sharks, before the visitors failed to take advantage of an overlap to the left - Chad Townsend grubbering to the wing where Will Hopoate and Aiden Tolman were able to work together to nullify the Sharks final roll of the dice. The weight of numbers suggested the Sharks would've been better off spreading it through the hands, but it wasn't to be.
Canterbury enjoy the bye next week before heading to Newcastle in Round 17, while Cronulla host Brisbane next Sunday at Pointsbet.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 14 - Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 12
Venue: ANZ Stadium
Halftime Score: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 14 Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 8
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Aiden Tolman
2 points - Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
1 points - Will Hopoate
CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS (14)
Tries: Will Hopoate, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
Conversions: Nick Meaney (2/2)
Penalty Goals: Nick Meaney (1/1)
CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND SHARKS (12)
Tries: Sosaia Feki, Shaun Johnson, Josh Dugan
Conversions: Shaun Johnson (0/3)