CLOSE: Kurri hooker Terrence Seu Seu sets up an attacking move on the Western Suburbs line. Picture by Cath Bowen.The Kurri Bulldogs’ faint Real NRL final hopes were dashed by a West Newcastle Rosellas comeback, going down 25-20 at Sylvester Real Estate Sportsground on Saturday.
The Mark Hughes Foundation and Newcastle Rugby League came together for Beanies For Brain Cancer Awareness round, and it was apt that the Bulldogs supported their ‘Old Boy’ Mark Hughes, against West Newcastle, the team he helped put the sword to in the 1995 Real NRL grand final.
In a must-win game to keep touch with fifth-placed Macquarie, Kurri were on the back foot after three minutes due to a soft Mark Taufau try.
The Bulldogs hit back through Real NRL leading try scorer Ryan Walker (his ninth try in 11 games) to level the scores at 6-all.
Both teams set in for a real arm-wrestle until Kurri second-rower Brock Harmer was taken off injured at the 20-minute mark.
After the delay, Wests’ second-phase play gifted Simon Williams a try in the corner to lead 10-6; then another second-phase play led to a brilliant Matt Hermann try from a bomb to lead 14-6.
Tim Bennett hit back with a try after some backyard-footy second phase to trail 14-10 at the half-time.
Kurri levelled up straight after the break with a Lochie Hill try on the back of repeat sets.
Both teams struggled to gain the upper hand until Bennett scored his second from a deft Corey Holman grubber for the Bulldogs to lead 20-14.
The Bulldogs held on strong for much of the match before Wests seized control and won in the dying minutes through tries to Callum Richardson and Chris Knight.
A Joel Brown field goal rubbed salt in the wound to finish 25-20.
Phil Williams’ Bulldogs have shown big efforts over the past couple of weeks but were unable to close out the game.
Strong performances across the park, not to mention big minutes from 2015 debutants Corey Holman and Josh Papworth – who will no doubt grow from the experience moving forward.
All lower grade teams are in the finals mix – with some big games coming up over the last three rounds.
Reserve grade copped a 39-0 hiding but still remain in the mix after favourable results.
Open Age won arguably the match of the season 32-20 to remain unbeaten in eight games (seven wins and a draw), since Wests handed them a 52-6 flogging on Mother’s Day.
The under-19s continue their mid-season revival under Mick Alchin with a dominant 24-16 win.
With no games this weekend, the Bulldogs will travel to Maitland Sportsground to face the Pickers on Saturday, August 8.
Gates open 10am, under-19s at 10.50am, first grade kick-off at 3pm. BarTV coverage to be announced.
Consider yourself a super fan of the Bulldogs? Get involved in the #KurriKurriBulldogs FanZone updates – see the club’s social media pages for more.
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