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NRL: Bulldogs put on second-half clinic to dispatch Dragons

Matt Burton NRL betting
Bulldogs star Matt Burton put his hand up for State of Origin selection with a two-try display in Canterbury’s comeback win against the Dragons on Thursday night.

The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs played one of the most remarkable halves of rugby league to defeat the St George Illawarra Dragons in the NRL on Thursday night.

Down 6-12 at the break, the Bulldogs produced their best 40 minutes of football in years. The home side ran in seven unanswered tries in the second half at Accor Stadium, dominating almost every statistic to record a 44-12 victory.

The win puts Canterbury up to ninth on the NRL table as they chase their first finals appearances since 2016.

Lomax sinbinning sends Dragons into spiral

Top NRL bookmakers had the Bulldogs pegged as $1.60 favourites for this clash, with the last encounter between these teams ending in a 18-16 nailbiter in 2023.

At the half-time break, it seemed this one could go down to the wire too. The Dragons had crossed the chalk twice, with Matt Burton getting Canterbury’s only score.

However, the sinbinning of Zac Lomax late in the first half spelled the beginning of the end for St George Illawarra. Coming out of the sheds, the Bulldogs were a different side.

They piled on 38 unanswered points, dominating possession at 72 percent and territory at 91 percent. Canterbury completed an impressive 24 from 25 sets, while the Dragons could only manage a woeful seven across the entire second half.

It was a complete and utter procession, with Bulldogs playmaker Burton putting his hat in the ring for State of Origin selection thanks to two tries.

Ominous signs for St George Illawarra

Dragons fans had reason to believe that 2024 might be different to previous seasons. Ahead of this clash, they had five wins on the board and were yet to lose matches in consecutive weekends.

Now, it’s beginning to look like a regression to the norm for St George Illawarra. The club has leaked 238 points across its six losses in 2024, averaging just under 40 points per loss.

Coach Shane Flanagan wasn’t overly optimistic in his post-match comments, either, saying the match was “so bad, you’ve got to try and laugh about it”.

“You can’t do it in one half and not do it in the other half,” he continued.

“So, it’s something we’ve got to work on.

“If you keep getting these results and you keep picking the same side, they’ll find a new coach.”

It doesn’t get any easier for the Dragons next weekend, as they will face a wounded Penrith Panthers at BlueBet Stadium.

The Bulldogs, meanwhile, will be looking to keep their winning ways going and claim their sixth win of the season when they take on the Knights in Newcastle.

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