Canterbury Bulldogs finished their NRL pre-season with a grinding 20-10 Charity Cup victory over Melbourne Storm which has left Krisnan Inu nursing a jaw injury.
Despite being their own worst enemy with some poor handling, Canterbury scored four tries to two in front of 10,083 Brisbane fans at Suncorp Stadium.
Missing only playmaker Josh Reynolds from his strongest line-up, Dogs coach Des Hasler would have been rapt by rising five-eighth Moses Mbye who filled Reynolds’ place with aplomb.
Noosa product Mbye showed great composure, had a hand in three of their four tries and showed he’ll have one of the biggest drop-kicks in the NRL following a couple of 60m restarts.
Mbye sealed the trial for Canterbury when he punished a 79th minute error by putting Josh Morris over for his second try.
Rubbing salt into the Storm’s wounds, half Ben Roberts was placed on report for a dangerous lifting tackle on Sam Perrett and may be in doubt for their round one clash with Manly at Brookvale Oval on Saturday week.
Adding injury to insult for the Storm, lock Ryan Hinchcliffe limped off with a left leg problem in the second half after falling awkwardly in a James Graham tackle.
There were concerns Bulldogs winger Inu broke his jaw in a head clash with Hymel Hunt but he returned to the sidelines just before full-time to suggest he may be available for their season-opener against Brisbane.
Inu had been a contender to play fullback but Sam Perrett started there in a sign he has won the hotly-contested battle to wear the Bulldogs No.1 jersey.
Missing Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater, the Storm dominated the opening 15 minutes, camping out near the Dogs’ goal-line but it took until their fourth attacking grubber for centre Mahe Fonua to score off his own kick.
They should have extended the lead soon after but Sisa Waqa’s 85m sprint to the line was all in vain as Canterbury halfback Trent Hodkinson’s wayward pass to no-one was incorrectly called back.
But it was the Bulldogs who were upset with the referees only a minute later when winger Mitch Brown was denied a try for an alleged forward pass by Morris.
Canterbury finally broke through for their opening try when Dragons recruit Chase Stanley finished a slick backline play set up by Mbye and Perrett for a 4-4 halftime scoreline.