The Canterbury Bulldogs survived a nerve-wracking final few minutes to secure their first win of the season.

The Canterbury Bulldogs survived a nerve-wracking final few minutes to secure their first win of the season as NRL history was made with the first-ever 18th-man substitution.

It was September last year when the Dogs were last in the win column, but they finally scrubbed that zero off their points tally for 2021 with a 18-12 victory at Kogarah.

Canterbury exploded out of the blocks, peppering the Sharks’ left side with success through the hands – with Will Hopoate going straight past Josh Dugan – and then through the air with a cross-field kick.

The former Dragon spilled that, allowing Nick Cotric to score his first-ever try for his new team. Nick Meaney added a third to give the Bulldogs a huge 18-0 buffer at the break.

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But it was an incident shortly after Meaney’s try that was the main talking point, Siosifa Talakai flying out of the line and cleaning up young Canterbury forward Matt Doorey.

Originally it was ruled play on as the 20-year-old stumbled around the field, but there could be no doubt that the shoulder collected the head, and after a quick review, Talakai was sent to the bin and put on report.

Canterbury couldn’t add to their lead with a man advantage, and despite Blayke Brailey getting the hosts on the scoreboard it looked to be petering out to a comfortable Bulldogs win as the Sharks bombed try after try.

Mawene Hiroti scored with four minutes to go to put some slight fear in the hearts of Bulldogs fans, and Chad Townsend’s ensuing sideline conversion had the Belmore faithful at panic stations.

Cronulla threw everything at the Canterbury try-line with an exasperated Trent Barrett watching from the sidelines, and he could only relax as the siren went and Brayden Trindall was tackled a couple of metres short.

The Bulldogs remain on the bottom of the ladder thanks to for and against, but have pulled level with both the Tigers and Broncos on points.

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