The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have slumped to their eighth defeat of the season after a 28-6 loss to the Melbourne Storm at Belmore Sports Ground.
Canterbury fans eagerly anticipate matches at the traditional venue yet results have been mixed since the club committed to returning there.
With the smell of history in the air and a host of former players invited to enjoy the day, one of rugby league’s most famous venues looked a picture on a cracking autumn day.
Sadly for the Bulldogs, it was to be anything but a cracking performance, with Melbourne producing a polished display that ground the blue and white into submission during the second half.
The game began as a struggle with neither side able to manufacture clear cut scoring opportunities. The sheer speed of Josh Addo-Carr proved the difference in the opening 40 minutes after a solo try established an 8-0 half-time lead for the visitors.
An earlier penalty goal had opened the scoring and the Bulldogs never really looked likely in their attempts to crack the Storm line. Jack Cogger tried to ignite his outside runners on the right, however Will Hopoate and Reimis Smith suffered from a disconnect for much of the afternoon.
Kieran Foran worked the left yet struggled to find space. Marcelo Montoya and Christian Crichton were cut off at every pass by the sometimes susceptible Melbourne right edge defence.
Chris Smith was the standout for Canterbury early on with some stiff defence that threw back the heads of a number of Storm ball runners and Nick Meaney looked safe under the high ball and dangerous around the ruck when the Bulldogs did find some forward momentum.
Unfortunately, that momentum was tough to establish and the Bulldogs were well down on run metres through the centre of the field. Despite an excellent completion rate of 81%, Canterbury had just Aiden Tolman and Josh Jackson run for in excess of 100 metres and the halves struggled to create off the back of the excellent Storm defence.
Sixth tackle options that involve merely a hopeful and high kick into the right corner for Reimis Smith to pursue, will only result in the odd lucky try. It appeared to be the Bulldog’s plan A and plan B never eventuated.
There was little effective structure in attack or interplay within the forwards. Improving those areas should be the number one objective in the short term.
Far more risk and adventure is required otherwise the Bulldogs will continue to compete well in matches before falling away and consistently failing to mount a potentially match winning score.
The pressure would eventually tell at Belmore on Sunday. Addo-Carr grabbed his second try early in the second half. After a duo of penalty goals, the visitors scored two more late tries to stretch their lead to 28-6, as the sun set on the Bulldog’s homecoming.
Sauaso Sue did cross the line in the 52nd minute for the home side yet the Storm managed the game superbly from that point on.
It was another day of unrewarded effort for the Bulldogs and a disappointing attacking performance that would have failed to worry any NRL defence.
The Raiders travel to ANZ Stadium next Saturday night and the men in blue and white will have the chance to show their wares against one of the competition’s toughest defences.
Without an Origin star or two, the Bulldogs might sniff the chance of an upset. However, they will need to put some points on the board to have any chance of defeating the Raiders.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 6 Melbourne Storm 28