Burton comes up clutch on eve of NSW team selection

Jasper Bruce |

Matt Burton has sent Michael Maguire a timely reminder of his brilliance on the big stage, kicking a field goal in extra time to ice Canterbury’s 13-12 defeat of the wounded Warriors.

Hours after a foot injury thwarted Latrell Mitchell’s hopes of playing in the State of Origin decider, Burton flexed his muscles by sealing a second golden-point win in as many Bulldogs games.

The would-be NSW centre made good on his fourth attempt at a one-pointer, piloting the ball over from 24 metres in the 87th minute at Accor Stadium.

“It was relief at the end when I got to ice that last one,” Burton said.

“It was all off the back of the boys’ hard work.”

Bulldogs' Matt Burton celebrates his dramatic last-gasp one-pointer.
Matt Burton celebrates his dramatic last-gasp one-pointer for the Bulldogs. (Steven Markham/AAP PHOTOS)

After they lost captain Tohu Harris 24 hours out, the Warriors’ back three of Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Marcelo Montoya all went down injured on Saturday.

With only one fit player left on the bench, veteran second-rower Kurt Capewell spent part of his 150th NRL game on the left wing, while Leka Halasima played out of position at right centre on debut.

Even then, the Warriors twice came within inches of snatching the game – Chanel Harris-Tavita’s two attempts at a field goal were waved to the left of the posts as the gutsiest of wins slipped away.

“I’m gutted for the boys,” Warriors coach Andrew Webster said.

“To put so much effort into something, so resilient, so many injuries, people in different spots.

“I’m really proud of the effort but just disappointed that we didn’t get what we wanted.”

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak of the Warriors vs the Bulldogs.
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak scored a try for the Warriors but was later sidelined after failing an HIA. (Steven Markham/AAP PHOTOS)

Burton, who sank Cronulla with a one-pointer a week ago, missed his first three attempts – his opening effort ricocheting off the post, the second pulling up short and the third charged down by Jackson Ford.

But at the death, the 24-year-old came up clutch again to keep his side undefeated through eight games at home this season.

The resurgent Bulldogs are closing in on the NRL’s top four, set to finish the weekend in fifth place on the ladder.

Burton had already pushed his case for an Origin recall when he picked off Te Maire Martin’s pass and dashed 60 metres to set up Bronson Xerri for the game’s first try after 19 minutes.

But the Warriors controlled the rest of the first half, with Watene-Zelezniak and Montoya helping their side to a 12-6 lead at the break.

Nicoll-Klokstad (calf) left the field shortly after making a try-saving tackle on Josh Curran late in the first half, having copped a knock in the opening 15 minutes.

Watene-Zelezniak followed him to the sideline just after halftime when he failed a head injury assessment, before Montoya exited in the final 15 minutes with a groin issue.

Webster was hopeful all three would be fit for the Warriors’ next game after their round-19 bye.

The personnel crisis left the Warriors to tire, with Viliame Kikau helping the Bulldogs level the scores by beating Adam Pompey to Toby Sexton’s cross-field kick in the 54th minute.

Viliame Kikau scores second-half try against the Warriors.
Viliame Kikau’s second-half try helped the Bulldogs level the scores against the Warriors. (Steven Markham/AAP PHOTOS)

But it was Sexton’s halves partner Burton who came up with the most important kick of all.

“(Burton) was actually pretty disappointed at halftime about how he was going,” Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo said.

“To sort of brush that aside, reset for the second half and then come up at the end and nail those moments … we’ve been preparing for those moments.

“It’s good to see us get some results.”

The Bulldogs lost second-rower Jaeman Salmon to a suspected broken jaw in the final 10 minutes of regulation time.