Sport Frustrated Barrett benches Flanagan as Bulldogs hit rock bottom
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Trent Barrett made his biggest call since becoming Bulldogs coach, benching halfback Kyle Flanagan as the cellar dweller's season hit rock bottom in a 32-12 loss to the Dragons at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Sunday.
Barrett hooked the club's long-term No.7 at half-time and replaced him with Lachlan Lewis, a late addition to Canterbury's bench.
It is the first sign of Barrett losing patience with one of his own signings as he desperately tries to rebuild the club before the arrivals of Josh Addo-Carr and Panthers pair Matt Burton and Brent Naden next year.
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Richmond have got their AFL premiership defence back on track after downing the previously unbeaten Western Bulldogs by 22 points at the MCG.Staring down the barrel of a fourth loss in five weeks, the Tigers recovered from a 25-point deficit midway through the second quarter to stun the Bulldogs by 22 points at the MCG on Friday night.
Flanagan and Burton were expected to be the halves who would rejuvenate the Bulldogs, but the immediate future of the former will be under the microscope before Canterbury's clash against the brittle Raiders during Magic Round.
Flanagan overcooked a kick for winger Nick Cotric on zero tackle inside St George Illawarra's red zone during the first half and headed straight for the bench when the teams emerged after the break.
He would later earn a reprieve when play was stopped for several minutes after fellow recruit Corey Allan was heavily concussed in a three-man Dragons tackle, prompting significant concern from medicos of both clubs.
Lewis was playing his first NRL game since being concussed in the Good Friday belting at the hands of South Sydney, in which the Bulldogs were fined $20,000 for not immediately withdrawing him from play. The club has appealed the severity of the fine.
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But even he didn't finish the second half after being interchanged with 15 minutes left.
The Bulldogs looked like being kept scoreless for the fourth time this season before Renouf Atoni mugged Jack Bird in a one-on-one steal and Nick Meaney scored a long-range intercept try as they remain the only team this season with just one win.
Having lost their last three matches, Anthony Griffin's Dragons were nothing like the side which ripped through the opening five rounds but still found enough to heap further misery on long-suffering Canterbury fans.
Debutant winger Mat Feagai scored a crucial second-half try as he shared the big stage with twin Max while 18-year-old rookie Junior Amone, who was playing SG Ball last week, scored seven minutes into his first game of NRL.
Will Hopoate's sin-binning for obstructing Jack Bird killed off Canterbury's chances in the second half and the Dragons scored three times before he trudged back onto the field.
Flanagan hooked in Bulldogs' big NRL loss
Canterbury have plunged to their eighth loss for the NRL season, thrashed 32-12 by St George Illawarra.As well as the dramatic benching of their star half, the Bulldogs have serious concerns for Lachlan Lewis and Corey Allen, who were both taken to hospital.
A couple of hours before kick-off the Dragons inducted three of their modern day greats, Ben Hornby, Jason Nightingale and Ben Creagh, into the Legends Walk outside Kogarah. How they could have done with them in a horrible opening stanza. If there has been a half with as little inspiration so far this season, then surely most are yet to see it.
Barrett sat on the Kogarah sideline like he did against the Sharks for their only win this season, and surely he felt compelled to shed a few more tears - although this would have been nothing like those previous tears of joy.
At one stage, Flanagan eyed a slither of space on Cotric's flank and kicked on zero tackle, a trademark of his successor at the Roosters, Sam Walker. Only his right boot overcooked it, summing up a game where two giants of the 1980s and 1990s couldn't get out of their own way for 40 minutes.
Unsurprisingly, the only try of the first half went to Dragons No.1 Matt Dufty. He latched onto a set piece play involving Corey Norman and Jack Bird, and so turgid had play been before it the home crowd just got above a muffled roar.
But the crowd found their voice in the second half when Paul Vaughan was controversially awarded a try straight after Hopoate's sin-binning despite protests of obstruction on Luke Thompson by Ben Hunt.
Norman and Dufty added further tries before Barrett at least saw a couple of consolation tries.
But how long is it going to take him to turn the Bulldogs around?
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 32 (Matt Dufty 2, Matt Feagai, Paul Vaughan, Corey Norman, Junior Amone tries; Corey Norman 4 goals) defeated CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS 12 (Renouf Atoni, Nick Meaney tries; Kyle Flanagan 2 goals) at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium. Referee: Ben Cummins. Crowd: 7253.
From the Archives, 1997: Bulldogs lick wounds as Port steal home .
In their inaugural AFL campaign, the Power charged home to famously snare the points at Princes Park. The Dogs opened up with eight goals to one in the opening term but were kept to just four majors over the next three quarters as the Power won outside of Adelaide for the first time.The power of faith