Canterbury fullback Ben Barba gave Queensland a timely reminder of his talents as he engineered a 26-6 NRL win for the Bulldogs in excess of Cronulla on Monday night at ANZ Stadium.
The Maroons determined they did not want the dynamic No.1 on their bench for game one this Wednesday night, but State of Origin is a extended series and Barba continued to push his situation with a blistering two-attempt display.
Barba created it 18 tries from his last 16 matches at ANZ Stadium – a record comparable to Manly fullback Brett Stewart’s feats at Brookvale Oval – to consolidate the Bulldogs’ position in the best eight.
Canterbury surged to a 24- halftime lead, and even though the Sharks kept factors tight in the second half, without captain Paul Gallen and star Todd Carney there to inspire them, they surrendered their spot in the leading four to Manly.
Barba was electrical from the back and was on hand to score right after just seven minutes, backing up a 30 metre line-break from hole-working 2nd rower Dene Halatau.
Moments later he played beautifully out the back of a left-side attacking raid to place centre Tim Lafai more than for a 12- lead right after just ten minutes.
And in the final minute prior to halftime, Barba chased via a completely placed Josh Reynolds grubber.
Barba showed his full array of skills on Monday – mixing scintillating ball operating with intelligent defensive plays at the back.
Cronulla noticed the match slip from their grasp midway by way of the initial half, when Jeff Robson butchered a specific try out, just before they fell victim to a controversial video referee decision down the other finish which saw the Bulldogs skip away to 18-.
A 70 metre dash from Colin Finest really should have resulted in a Sharks try out from the ensuing play – but instead of passing to the four-man overlap to his right, Robson went himself and the golden likelihood died.
When video ref Chris Ward ruled centre Jonathan Wright didn’t knock on into the hands of Cronulla winger John Williams ahead of regathering and touching down off a Reynolds bomb, it was usually going to be a extended way back.
Captain Jeremy Smith surged more than for the Sharks 4 minutes following halftime to give the guests hope, but they didn’t offer you adequate in assault.
Journeyman Luke MacDougall dislocated his elbow in his very first game for the Bulldogs, although prop Sam Kasiano could once once more attract the consideration of the match review committee for an awkward very first half tackle on Sharks 2nd rower Sam Tagataese.