Against the odds, the 2012 grand finalists defeat the Cronulla Sharks.
It might not have been their prettiest win under coach Des Hasler, but the Canterbury Bulldogs did not care.
After beginning the season with just one win in the first five rounds, the Dogs were desperate to get their season back on track.
And they managed to get their second important win when they downed a spluttering Cronulla sharks side 24-8 at Gosford.
Cronulla’s loss will confound the pundits as they looked the better side for at least half of the match, but a late surge, couple with two tries against the run of play, saw Canterbury return home with the two points.
The Sharks led from the front when a Michael Gordon penalty goal from right in front have them a slim two-point lead.
In what was a flat start to the game, both sides lacked concentration and execution in attack, resulting in several cheap turnovers
Canterbury scored the first try for the game, off the back of a penalty, when Sam Perrett
soared above his opposite number to ground a bomb, and when Trent Hodgkinson converted, the Bulldogs led by four points.
Todd Carney’s return from an ankle injury had a organising influence on the Sharks who looked to have more options in attack, but too often the last pass would go astray.
Mitch Brown crossed for Canterbury against the run of playing what was a crucial coiunter-punch by the Bulldogs, who were outplayed for more of the first half, but still managed to lead 12-2 at the break.
Cronulla was finally on the board when Luke Lewis scored the first try for the Sharks in the minute, after getting a pass back on the inside from Wade Graham to make it 12-8.
The Sharks began to play a more adventurous style, but there was enough time left for them to execute a grinding style of football in order to get the win.
At times it was obvious the Bulldogs were attempting to play the free-flowing style of football that got them to the grand final.
But a lack of cohesion meant the play often broke down as both sides, at times, looked like they were doing their best to lose the game.
A controversial call for stripping gave the Bulldogs a penalty 10 metres out from the Sharks’ line, which allowed Frank Pritchard to set up Brown for his second, stretching the gap to 10.
Five-eighth Josh Reynolds pulled off several important tackles late in the game to keep Canterbury in front.
However, the Bulldogs sealed the win when Carney attemtped to throw a long cut-out pass, allowing Perrett to score his second after he plucked the ball out of the air to race 30 metres to score.
Canterbury’s record now improves to 2-5 and their slim finals chances are still alive as they prepare to tackle the injury-ravaged Wests Tigers next weekend.
For Cronulla, they will need to regroup quickly after losing their fourth game in a row as they fall outside of the top eight, also with a record of 2-5.
The side will need to shrug off the weight of the ASADA doping probe into the club when they travel to Hunter Stadium to take on the high-flying Knights in round eight.