A clutch Josh Reynolds field goal has propelled Canterbury to a famous golden-point 11-10 NRL qualifying final win over St George Illawarra at ANZ Stadium.
After Saturday night’s game was sent to golden point, the Bulldogs’ five-eighth stepped up to the mark and slotted the winner from 20 metres out to eliminate the Dragons and book his side a date next week with the Sydney Roosters in another sudden-death showdown.
Following a helter skelter final 10 minutes of regular time, Dragons five-eighth Gareth Widdop levelled the scores on the siren with a penalty goal from 35 metres out.
After being down 6-0 for most of the game, an Eto Nabuli try and then a Widdop penalty with two minutes remaining allowed them to take the lead, 8-6, for the first time.
Just when it looked like the Dragons were going to steal it, Bulldogs forward Shaun Lane crossed with two minutes on the clock.
However, Lane went from hero to zero quickly when he was ruled to have caught the ball from an offside position from the short kickoff.
Widdop then nailed the two points to send the game into extra time.
However, the playmaker’s night also went from diamonds to rocks quickly when he kicked out on the full to hand the Dogs field position and gift Reynolds the chance to win the game.
Earlier, Canterbury had ample attacking opportunities in the first 30 minutes but only went into the sheds holding a 6-0 lead.
Fullback Brett Morris crossed in the 11th minute after a smart inside ball from captain James Graham allowed the Bulldogs to get on the scoreboard first.
The Dragons were struck a double blow 15 minutes into the second stanza when Benji Marshall was forced from the field with a right ankle injury and Joel Thompson succumbed to a hamstring problem, reducing their bench to two.
The game was marred after Graham suggested to head referee Jared Maxwell that he had been bitten, holding out his arm as evidence.
“I’m not making accusations but look at that,” Graham said.
He declined to make an accusation or point the finger at an opposition player, although Dragons second-rower Jake Marketo was heard to defend himself, telling the whistleblowers he had his mouthguard in and suggested he was incapable of biting.
While the Bulldogs looked dominant for most of the match, the Dragons evened it up with 10 minutes to go when Nabuli managed to plant the ball on the line in the left corner despite the best efforts of five Bulldogs defenders.
Widdop showed no ill effects of his quad injury as he booted the conversion from the sideline to make it 6-6.
They then took the lead five minutes later when Widdop potted a penalty goals from 35 metres out after he had copped knees in the back from Frank Pritchard.
Lane’s try two minutes later looked like the game winner, only for the match to be sent to extra time by Widdop.