A STRONG first half effort put the Milton-Ulladulla Bulldogs in a match winning position against Albion Park at Bill Andriski Oval on Saturday.
The Bulldogs, in what was a strong performance, defeated the Eagles 40-22 in their Group 7 rugby league match.
The Bulldogs took the lead midway through the first half and went into the halftime break with a 20-10 lead.
However, the eventual winners did not have things all their own way.
The Eagles, thanks to first half tries from Derek and Dean Gray scored tries, held a 10-8 lead at one stage but the Bulldogs dominated the play thereafter.
The Park made a comeback late in the game scoring three tries when the Milton defence relaxed.
The Bulldogs’ first try was scored by James Patterson in the fifth minute and he had one disallowed minutes later.
The Park defence led by Kurt Holloway and Sean Jenkins was strong at times but then wilted slightly and Milton's stand out fullback Mitch Simington beat the defence with sheer speed.
Simington’ try was unconverted by Young and the Park had a lean time with Milton's forwards getting on top through Gary Warburton, Nick Goodman and Brian Travers.
A kick into the Bulldog's in goal saw the re-start at the 20 metre but the promising raid broke down and the Eagles got the ball back.
Matt Carroll and Chris Rowles started to take control, only to see possession return to the Dogs.
Centre Kirren Roughley had his best game for the year for the Bulldogs and wrong-footed the Park defence and gave Milton consecutive tries.
Luke Young converted and Milton led 14-10.
Young, who has been one of Milton's most consistent players was rewarded with a try in the 35 minute mark and gave his team a 20-10 lead.
The well and truly in the game at half time but early in the second half something special happened.
In what could be the contender for the try of the year, Kirren Roughley and James Patterson combined in an exchange of passes on the left flank.
Roughley received his second pass from Patterson and then flick passed to rookie Khy Whitford who dashed downfield to score and gave the Bulldogs a 24-10 lead.
In the 50th minute Luke Young was awarded a penalty after a late tackle was reported by a touch judge.
Young was able to fully recover after the incident.
The Milton forwards then lifted with Hayden Naylor , Sam Cunningham and Jamie Wills dominant.
Debutante River Roberts had entered the fray for Milton and was showing exceptional strength and determination.
The Park attempted to maintain pressure with a high kick toward Milton's in goal from Carroll but Simington , ever reliable took the ball with ease and began a sustained attack.
Roughley and Patterson combined again to see the latter score his second try for Young to convert and the Bulldogs held a 30-10 lead.
With Simington's blistering pace he was soon in again after good lead up work by Cook and Grundy.
Young converted and Milton appeared to have a good lead.
Milton's left winger Blake Sommerville made a promising dash but play broke down at the play the ball.
The Park was not done with and the next ten minutes belonged to the proud Eagles. Matt Arblaster, Aaron Sarafini and Danny Maxwell scored for the visitors during this period when the Milton defence open up.
The Park got within 14 points of Milton's lead with another Milton debutante Rory Smith taking the field.
The final try went to Milton's Tom Cook who had worked hard all day.
In an entertaining game for the Park Maxwell, Dunster, Jenkins and Sainsbury were strong and for the winners Simington, Roughley, Warburton were good.
Milton fielded two debutantes in Roberts and Smith with centre Khy Whitford playing his second game in the top grade.