Off- season recruits help to tame Tigers
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.