THE Milton-Ulladulla Bulldogs proved their 2014 campaign may have some bite yet, scoring their second Group 7 Rugby League victory for the year on Sunday.
They downed Albion Park-Oak Flats 42-24 in blustery conditions at Centenary Field.
The Park trailed by just four points at the break, despite their opponents enjoying the bulk of possession during the first 40 minutes and appearing the far more dangerous in attack.
Both teams entered the contest with just one win thus far this season, and some of the defensive lapses would have concerned the respective coaches.
In the fifth minute a Lachlan Moore break laid the foundation for Milton pivot Luke Young to send halfback Jayde Tooth on a journey to the try-line and 6-nil.
The Eagles’ custodian Chris Daniels quickly responded via a four-pointer, before crafty dummy half play from Nick Goodman enabled Gary Warburton to crash over next to the posts.
While the Wings Over Illawarra aircraft performed nearby, the visitors displayed a few crowd-pleasing manoeuvres of their own.
Bulldogs fullback Tom Cook crossed upon being the recipient of a deft inside ball from close range; although a Harley Ryan try kept the Park within eight points.
Milton quickly shifting the ball to the right edge created a multi-man overlap and A.J Hatch backed up Mitch Simington to nab a converted try.
The Eagles struggled to sustain pressure throughout the first stanza, while also often unable to contend with the visitors’ frequent off-loads, particularly in heavy traffic.
However, after retrieving the ball from the ensuing kick-off thanks to an awkward bounce, a well-executed decoy play allowed Williams to score.
They then busted through the middle, soon spinning the ball out wide, whereby Ryan Moed cut the deficit to 24-20.
Although the margin was perhaps not a true indicator of the opening half, the Bulldogs somewhat readdressed the balance in the 52nd minute when a long cut-out pass from Tooth found Blake Sommerville, who touched down in the corner.
Both outfits were frustrated by missed attacking opportunities, but Milton finally made good on theirs, when Warburton, a constant threat, off-loaded to Adam Bliss for 32-20.
The visitors appeared to have sealed the victory after Tooth crossed after further frantic second-phase play.
Park veteran Sean Jenkins’ classic “don’t argue” fend brought the home side within two converted tries and a whiff of a comeback inside the final ten minutes.
Ultimately they couldn’t further add to their tally, a late Sommerville effort concluding the contest.
Warburton, Tooth, Luke Young and Goodman were the standouts for Milton, while Williams, Jenkins and Dean Gray were the best for the Park.