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Happy returns: Dogs get Belmore bouncing

By Adam Pengilly

30 June 2015 - Sydney Morning Herald

Trivia buffs will remember Craig Polla-Mounter as the last Bulldog to score in a competitive fixture at Belmore 17 years ago.

He grubbered for himself, the ball barely went five metres through the puddles and the little No.6 slid over. Watch the blue and white faithful go mad in near cyclonic-conditions as the Storm succumbed in a slogfest that night, during their inaugural year.

But the more things change the more they stay the same. The intercity train still rattles past at regular intervals at the northern end. The font for the matchday program is straight out of yesteryear. Baa Lamb and Turvey Mortimer are still barons of Belmore, where the former has the family hill named after him. And Bullfrog? Peter Moore Field out the back means the Godfather will always be close by.

This time it is a picture-perfect night. One couple get engaged on the half-way line before kick-off. And the only moisture in sight is that trickling down the face of the bride-to-be - and the scoreboard attendant sweating buckets to keep up with the early points barrage. 

It might have taken Polla-Mounter 60-odd minutes to score the first try the last time these teams met at Belmore. Sixty-odd seconds had barely passed when Brett Morris clocked the opening points this time.

And they came. And came. And came. Until a sea of blue and white knew they were going home as winners - eventually to the tune of 20-4 - after all of 14 minutes when the Bulldogs had already racked up 16 unanswered points.

There were party tricks too. The world's biggest dummy-half, Sam Kasiano, looped a pass for Josh Morris to score to spark rapturous celebration from the sell out crowd of 16,764, safe in the knowledge they're back in the top eight.

It was the only points of the second half until Melbourne winger Marika Koroibete scored with seconds left. They didn't care.

They chanted "Reynolds, Reynolds, Reynolds" when the only local junior was still unused on the bench after 60 minutes. He took the liberty of standing, turning around and applauding them. Who knows what Des would have thought of it all?

Brett Morris may not have the cult following of Reynolds or what Rod Silva commanded in the blue and white No.1 way back when, but he is well on his way. The NSW winger pounced on a Curtis Rona grubber inside three minutes to start the Storm pain early.

Rangy back-rower Shaun Lane had doubled the lead four minutes later with a maiden NRL try before another Kiwi winger revived memories of the past.

Sam Perrett may not stand anywhere near as tall or kick goals like Daryl Halligan, but he looked like he knew every blade of Belmore grass when squeezing over for the third Bulldogs try before a quarter of an hour was up.

And that only got half the reception David Klemmer received when he used the Storm - minus the injured Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk - defenders as ten pins on one kick return en route to a game high 209 running metres.

Perhaps Jim Dymock summed up the mood best. Asked in an on-ground half-time interview what he made of the first half, the Bulldogs assistant coach turned to the crowd and roared: "How good is it to be back at Belmore?" And that was the total response.

There wouldn't be one that would disagree with him.


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