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Bulldogs repel Warriors fightback
14:10 AEST Sun Mar 18 2012

Canterbury have maintained their unbeaten start to the NRL season by repelling a Warriors fightback to secure a 32-18 victory in a thriller in Auckland.

Centre Jonathan Wright's second try five minutes from time sealed the win after both sides had produced a second-half nailbiter on Sunday.

The try was set up by fullback Ben Barba, who moments earlier had denied opposite Kevin Locke with a tackle in the corner.

Substitute Joel Romelo grabbed the visitors' sixth try in the final minute to blow out the final margin.

It was the third week in a row that the Warriors had had to play catch-up as a rampaging Bulldogs raced to an early 16-0 lead.

The introduction of Feleti Mateo and Ben Matulino off the bench midway through the opening half kick-started the Warriors fightback, Mateo providing the ball-playing and Matulino the grunt up the middle.

The pair combined for the try that eventually took the Warriors ahead early in the second spell.

A speculator pass from Matulino kept alive an attack from which Mateo dotted down.

James Maloney's conversion took the home side 18-16 ahead to the delight of a noisy 17,067 Mt Smart Stadium crowd.

But the Bulldogs nudged themselves back in front when prop Sam Kasiano, one of their best of the afternoon, barged over by the posts.

In a grandstand finish, Bulldogs prop Aiden Tolman was put on report for a high tackle on Maloney in the 70th minute, before Barba's heroics in defence and then in attack helped to clinch the victory.

The Bulldogs began the match at speed, solid up the middle but also willing to chance their arm out wide.

It was Kasiano and Frank Pritchard, back after a one-match ban for a careless high tackle, who combined for an opening try.

Pritchard produced a nifty kick for Barba to score before it was the boot of Josh Reynolds that provided the second for Steve Turner.

A big Barba break around Jerome Ropati, back from an ankle injury earlier than expected, put Wright over for his first.

With the home side reeling, coach Brian McClennan introduced Matulino and Mateo with immediate effect.

Two deft passes from Mateo led to two quick tries to Maloney and Sione Lousi to make it a four-point game at halftime.


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