Tigers’ discipline frustrates Benji in loss to Bulldogs

Jasper Bruce |

Josh Curran scores for the Bulldogs in their 22-14 win over Wests Tigers.
Josh Curran scores for the Bulldogs in their 22-14 win over Wests Tigers.

Benji Marshall has lamented Wests Tigers’ poor discipline after a fiery melee reduced his side to 11 players and put Canterbury on the path to a 22-14 NRL victory.

It was a disappointing Saturday afternoon for the Tigers, who again struggled for polish in attack after rushing out to a 14-6 half-time lead.

Prop forward Josh Curran scored from a Drew Hutchison grubber kick only minutes after the break to signal the start of a dominant second half from the hosts at Accor Stadium.

The Tigers’ frustrations threatened to boil over as they battled for ascendancy, with referee Kasey Badger cautioning stand-in captain John Bateman about the language his players were using towards the match officials.

The levee broke in the final 10 minutes when firebrand prop David Klemmer went to the sin bin for dissent.

David Klemmer is sent to the sin bin by referee Kasey Badger. (James Gourley/AAP PHOTOS)

Alex Seyfarth followed him but could have been sent off altogether after appearing to headbutt famously chirpy Bulldogs hooker Reed Mahoney during the fracas that ensued.

Alex Seyfarth (r) becomes the second Wests Tigers player sent to the bin. (James Gourley/AAP PHOTOS)

The scenes frustrated Marshall as the Tigers slumped to their fifth consecutive defeat.

“You’ve got to have discipline,” Marshall said.

“We’re eight points down, we’re still a chance in the game. To lose two players and play with 11 for the last seven or eight minutes, that’s not us.”

Marshall noted his players may have been displeased with the officiating; the Tigers successfully used their captain’s challenge three times and were on the wrong end of a 4-1 penalty count in the second half.

“The frustration built up but it’s first-grade rugby league,” he said.

“You’ve still got to be disciplined, those two things to get sin-binned were both silly.”

Jackson Topine’s commencement of legal proceedings against the Bulldogs and Phil Gould’s on-air rant at the NRL’s “stupid” rules had captured the headlines ahead of Canterbury’s first game since their bye.

But the Bulldogs weren’t to be distracted, completely suffocating the Tigers after half-time to claim their first back-to-back wins in more than a year.

“It got a bit red-hot at the end there but credit to our boys for staying composed and sticking to our structure, holding the ball and putting them into a cage,” said Bulldogs captain Stephen Crichton.

The Tigers were fortunate not to lose Aidan Sezer to the sin bin early in the second half after the veteran halfback laid a horror hip-drop tackle on Curran.

Sezer was put on report, with Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo reluctant to address the incident post-match.

“I’ll leave it to the match review committee,” he said.

The Tigers caught a break by retaining the full complement of players but it was Bulldogs five-eighth Matt Burton who set up the next try.

He dummied past Sezer and opened up the Tigers’ right edge before finding a flying Bronson Xerri on his outside. Canterbury looked well on top then, up by 22-14.

Josh Curran
Josh Curran’s try paved the way for the Bulldogs’ second-half dominance. (James Gourley/AAP PHOTOS)

Earlier, Jahream Bula had been the Tigers’ most dangerous player. His burst of speed and basketball pass to Brent Naden helped Charlie Staines open the scoring in the 15th minute.

But the most threatening players in attack after the break – Burton, Crichton and Viliame Kikau – were all in blue and white.

Naden went on report for a crusher tackle on Xerri in the first half and Mahoney could join him in attracting scrutiny for up-ending Solomon Alaimano.