Off- sea­son re­cruits help to tame Tigers

Townsville Bulletin - - Bizfi Nd -

ALL eyes were on Benji Mar­shall but it was fel­low Kiwi Frank Pritchard who stole the show as Can­ter­bury’s ag­gres­sive off-sea­son re­cruit­ment drive paid im­me­di­ate div­i­dends in their 24-14 NRL win over Wests Tigers at ANZ Sta­dium last night.

Pritchard showed just why he was seen as one of the best sign­ings of the off-sea­son, with the for­mer Pan­ther’s bul­lock­ing sec­ond-half try putting the Bull­dogs ahead 12-8 for a lead they would never re­lin­quish.

Fel­low Bull­dogs new­comer Kris Keat­ing ex­tended the lead with a run­away try 16 min­utes from full­time to the de­light of the blue and white faith­ful in the 26,737-strong crowd – a to­tal which helped set an NRL record for at­ten­dance in any round of 201,212 spec­ta­tors.

Bull­dogs cen­tre Ja­mal Idris, who threw off de­fend­ers with f r i g h t e n i n g r e g u l a r i t y , praised the to­geth­er­ness of the new-look side as they s h o w e d l i t t l e s i g n o f un­fa­mil­iar­ity.

‘‘ I’m not sur­prised ( by how well we gelled),’’ Idris said.

’’( We’re) like a bunch of brothers play­ing out there, we need to bust our ar­ses for each other, and it showed on the field.’’

Mar­shall, play­ing for the first time since be­ing charged with as­sault fol­low­ing an early morn­ing in­ci­dent out­side a Syd­ney McDon­ald’s out­let just over a week ago, showed few ill-ef­fects from what had been a drama-filled week as he car­ried the Tigers to within sight of vic­tory.

Af­ter l ay­ing on t errif i c passes for Lote Tuqiri and Chris Lawrence t o s core ei­ther side of half­time to give t he visi t ors an 8 - 6 l ead, Mar­shall danced past three de­fend­ers to score un­der the posts 11 min­utes from time.

But i t was yet an­other prized Bull­dogs re­cruit who made sure of the first-up win, with for­mer Manly half­back Trent Hod­kin­son de­liv­er­ing a mil­lime­tre per­fect grub­ber for Steve Turner to score four min­utes from full­time.

It took un­til just short of the half hour for the game’s first points but it proved to be well worth the wait, with Bull­dogs cen­tre Josh Morris rac­ing 95 me­tres to score a scin­til­lat­ing try af­ter a shock­ing at­tempted tackle by Liam Ful­ton close to the op­po­si­tion line.

The only down­side for the Bull­dogs was a sus­pected torn pos­te­rior me­dial lig­a­ment which forced Morris from the field shortly af­ter Keat­ing’s try.

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