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Barba surprised by Bulldogs' brilliance

Brilliant Canterbury fullback Ben Barba admits he is surprised at how well the Bulldogs are playing as they head towards the NRL minor premiership in coach Des Hasler's first year at the club.
Barba surprised by Bulldogs' brilliance
by NRL

By James MacSmith

SYDNEY, July 28 AAP - Brilliant Canterbury fullback Ben Barba admits he is surprised at how well the Bulldogs are playing as they head towards the NRL minor premiership in coach Des Hasler's first year at the club.

Barba starred with three tries in the Bulldogs' hard-fought 32-18 win over North Queensland at ANZ Stadium on Saturday, their ninth straight win to have them sitting on top of the NRL ladder with five rounds remaining before the finals.

The Bulldogs hold a four-point lead over both Melbourne and South Sydney, which the Rabbitohs can cut to two with a win over Wests Tigers on Sunday.

After just 19 games under Hasler's guidance, the Bulldogs have emerged as premiership favourites and when asked if he as surprised at how swiftly things had come together for the team under the two-time premiership winning coach, Barba said: "I have to say that we are".

"We had a new coach and a new bunch of blokes coming to the club and had to learn a new style.

"But it all comes down to hard work and us just enjoying our footy, and that's what we are doing.

"We are working hard and not trying to think about where we are heading.

"With Des coming everyone was a bit nervous, no one was guaranteed a spot. I would like to think he has brought us a lot of belief.

Barba scored two explosive first-half tries to help the Bulldogs to a 18-6 halftime lead.

The first in the 13th minute came after he backed up a Josh Reynolds linebreak and raced 50m to score untouched.

His second was almost a carbon copy of the first when he backed up Josh Jackson, who had broken the Cowboys line from a Josh Graham pass, and sprinted 45m to score under the posts.

Krisnan Inu scored Canterbury's other first-half try after chasing down a Reynolds kick to add to his six goals for the match.

Cowboys centre Kane Linnett scored his side's only try of the opening half when he chased down a Matt Bowen grubber in the 17th minute.

The Cowboys showed great spirit to fight their way back to 18-all after Antonio Winterstein scored a 48th-minute try when a cruel bounce evaded Barba.

Then Johnathan Thurston dummied over from close range after 63 minutes for his first try of they year to tie up the scores.

With the game in the balance, Inu kicked an easy penalty following an illegal strip to break the deadlock with 10 minutes to go, before a Sam Perrett four-pointer and Barba's third of the game and 17th of the year sealed the win.




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