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NRL Premiership

Wests Tigers (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Like that ... Wests Tigers celebrate Blake Ayshford's opener. Getty Images

Wests Tigers defeat Bulldogs 34-12 at Sydney Football Stadium

By Todd Balym
September 04, 2009

The Bulldogs' title aspirations are in disarray after a 34-12 defeat to Wests Tigers cost them the minor premiership and may result in suspension to stars Luke Patten and Josh Morris.

The Dogs were blown off the park by a free-spirited Tigers side out of finals contention with the six-tries-to-two defeat on Friday night dropping them to second on the NRL table after St George Illawarra bounced back to form with a win over Parramatta at WIN Jubilee Stadium.

It was supposed to be the night the Bulldogs became the first club in rugby league history to go from last to first in two seasons and celebrate their remarkable turnaround as a pillar in the NRL.

But as their team failed on the football field, so too did their fans in the Sydney Football Stadium stands with one ejected for fighting and another seen to throw a bottle at Tigers star Benji Marshall as he scored a second-half try.

With halfback Brett Kimmorley (fractured cheekbone) already out until at least the third week of the finals, Patten and Morris could be further concerns for the Bulldogs after an upending tackle on Keith Galloway early in the second half.

Galloway landed on his head in the 43rd-minute tackle and while the referees did not put the incident on report it is certain to be scrutinised by the match committee on Monday.

While the defeat raised serious questions about the Bulldogs' title chances without key playmaker Kimmorley, it would also leave Tigers fans puzzled as to why their team is not participating in the finals for the fourth year in succession.

Superstar five-eighth Marshall was at his dazzling best, scoring a sensational solo try and having a hand in four others in front of 17,375 fans.

Backrower Danny Galea broke his three-year try-scoring drought with his first four-pointer since joining the Tigers in 2007 coming in his 100th and possibly last NRL game.

The Bulldogs' only points came from a Patten try in the 55th minute and an 85 metre intercept to Morris in the 69th minute.

The Dogs had plenty of late chances but they were effectively out of the contest by half-time when they trailed 16-0 after having just 30 per cent possession.

NRL chief executive David Gallop started his night at the SFS, but then took the 16km drive to Kogarah with the JJ Giltinan Shield at half-time to present the trophy and $100,000 to the Dragons after their win.

The Tigers led 10-0 with two tries in the opening seven minutes, while the Dogs touched the ball only once in that time before surrendering possession on the first tackle.

Bulldogs coach Kevin Moore was disappointed with the performance but had full faith his men could rebound immediately, as they have done in being the only club not to lose back-to-back games all year.

"Every time we have performed sub-standard we have bounced back the next week and I expect that to happen again," said Moore.

"We have got the opportunity to have two bites at the cherry if we need it but that's not the plan."

Moore added that he would "review" the decision to play Daniel Holdsworth at halfback, but conceded Kimmorley would not have changed the result.

"The way the game went, Brett would not have made a huge difference," he said.

Tigers coach Tim Sheens praised the courage of his men, seven players taking to the field with pain-killing injections.

While disappointed not to reach the finals, Sheens said the team were on their last legs anyway.

"We are not a bad side to be out of the the eight, we are better than where we finished," said Sheens.

"If we had of made it we probably would have limped in anyway."

Sheens said it was too soon to write off the Dogs.

"I'm not condemning them to doom and gloom," he said.

"I don't think they will be too far off the pace in the semis. When they held the ball they tested us big time."


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NRL: R 26, Game 2 Full-time

Tigers 34
Blake Ayshford 4m
Chris Lawrence 7m
Tim Moltzen 36m
Danny Galea 44m
Benji Marshall 51m
Dene Halatau 64m
Bulldogs 12
Luke Patten 55m
Josh Morris 69m
Benji Marshall 8m
Benji Marshall 37m
Benji Marshall 45m
Benji Marshall 53m
Benji Marshall 65m
Field Goals
Hazem El Masri 55m
Hazem El Masri 70m
Field Goals
Round 26 (Updated Sep 18)
  W L D B +/- Pts
1 Dragons 17 7 0 2 219 38
2 Bulldogs 18 6 0 2 147 38
3 Titans 16 8 0 2 47 36
4 Storm 14 9 1 2 157 33
5 Sea Eagles 14 10 0 2 90 32
6 Broncos 14 10 0 2 -55 32
7 Knights 13 11 0 2 17 30
8 Eels 12 11 1 2 3 29
9 Tigers 12 12 0 2 75 28
10 Rabbitohs 11 12 1 2 17 27
11 Panthers 11 12 1 2 -74 27
12 Cowboys 11 13 0 2 84 26
13 Raiders 9 15 0 2 -31 22
14 Warriors 7 15 2 2 -188 20
15 Sharks 5 19 0 2 -209 14
16 Roosters 5 19 0 2 -299 14
Full stats index



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