The Wests Tigers returned to winning ways in style on Friday with a comprehensive 38-14 victory over an under-par Canterbury at ANZ Stadium.
Two tries apiece from Luke Brooks, James Tedesco and Pat Richards banished memories of last week’s collapse against Canberra.
But it was the golden boot of veteran winger Richards and a freakish first-half play from Kevin Naiqama that set the platform for the win.
With just four minutes on the clock, a Tedesco grubber kick appeared to be heading out of the in-goal area only for Naiqama to lunge forward and scoop the ball over his head and into the grateful arms of the onrushing fullback.
Richards added the extras with his first of six successful kicks before Naiqama crossed for a four-pointer following another smart Tedesco kick.
Brooks added a third try with less than 15 minutes played after his speculative kick from midfield took a wicked bounce over the head of Sam Perret, then crashed off the upright and the halfback raced through to grab the rebound and score.
Shellshocked by their horror start, the Bulldogs finally managed to get on the scoresheet through Frank Pritchard midway through the opening stanza.
But on the stroke of halftime, Richards returned to the field following stitches for a facial cut to convert a monster 55-metre kick from inside his own half to open up an 18-6 lead.
Tedesco scored his second just after the restart, putting the finishing touches to a length-of-the-field try after being put in the clear by Naiqama.
A Richards penalty stretched the Tigers’ lead before Brooks ended the game as a contest from close range after some poor defence from the home side.
Pritchard and Curtis Rona crossed late in the game for the Bulldogs but there was to be no repeat of the fightback that secured their 25-24 victory over the Tigers in round four as Richards went over in the corner in the final minute.