By Mick Roberts
29 July 2015 - The Torch
In a frustrating game that never really got going, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have gone down 18-16 to Cronulla Sharks at Belmore Sports Ground.
Sunday afternoon footy doesn't get any better and to add some extra spice to the contest, former players Ben Barba and Michael Ennis lined up for Cronulla.
It was Sharks that drew first blood, though, with Michael Gordon streaking clear in the 13th minute. He converted for 6-0.
Bulldogs were close to striking back immediately but Lane's effort was ruled to be a double movement. There was no denying Josh Morris in the 19th minute, with the centre crashing over from close range to send the sold out crowd into raptures. Trent Hodkinson sent his conversion to the right to leave things 6-4.
Sharks skipper Paul Gallen was put on report in the opening minutes of the second half, gifting Bulldogs the opportunity to take the lead for the first time in the match but after a promising raid, Frank Pritchard was ruled to have lost control by the video referee.
The Bulldogs absorbed plenty of pressure in the first 10 minutes but the Belmore wall finally cracked with Gallen barging over next to the posts in the 50th minute. With Gordon off the field, replaced earlier by Barba, it was left to Valentine Holmes to slot the extras for 12-4.
Just as Bulldogs looked to be building an attack in the subsequent set, Josh Morris' pass to brother Brett was ruled forward.
A clever kick chipped in behind from Ennis in the 60th minute was hunted down by Holmes, who extended the lead further. The conversion was waved away for 16-4.
A glimmer of hope was offered to the Bulldog's faithful with 15 minutes on the clock after great second phase play opened up the Sharks' defence for a Hodkinson wrap around to send Pritchard over untouched. Hodkinson added the two to cut the deficit to 16-10.
Holmes atttempted a field goal in the 74th minute but a rushing Reynolds saw the attempt spiral to the right. Controversially, Reynolds was penalised for his tackle, gifting Sharks two points from right in front. Holmes dusted himself off to slot the penalty for 18-10.
An opportunistic try from Lichaa in the 78th minute offered some late hope.
Bulldogs play Roosters on Friday night at Allianz Stadium with kick-off at 7.35pm.