Bulldogs suffer triple NRL trial blow

By James Macsmith
Graham injury sours Dogs NRL trial win

Canterbury have suffered a triple blow to their start to the NRL season, with James Graham and Tony Williams copping injuries in their 20-0 NRL trial win over Melbourne, and David Klemmer being put on report.

Graham left the field in the 12th minute after being hit hard in a tackle and didn't return. He left Belmore Sportsground in crutches, with ice on his lower left leg.

He's also understood to have a rib problem.

Williams has injured his ankle, and Klemmer was placed on report for dangerous contact in an incident that sparked a second-half scuffle.

Josh Reynolds led Canterbury astutely around the park and enjoyed a points victory over Cooper Cronk.

But he's admitted to concern. "Those two things aren't the best outcome," Reynolds said of Graham and Klemmer.

"Hopefully James will be right. I'm not too sure about the Klemmer one. I didn't see it.

"On the game, I thought we were good. The biggest thing for us was keeping them to nil. That was our big focus. We didn't play much of our attack. (But) in attack we were playing offloads and free-flowing footy. To keep them scoreless is a big result."

The drama before a crowd of about 4,000 added to coach Des Hasler's woes. Key recruit Will Hopoate is in doubt for the Dogs' round one fixture against Manly on March 4 due to a knee injury.

Brett Morris is expected to miss the first month of the new season due to a knee complaint.

Moses Mbye was also in the casualty ward on Saturday night due to a gluteal strain, but he is expected to be fit to meet the Sea Eagles.

The trouble soured the Dogs' impressive win over a disappointing Storm.

Two tries to Sam Perrett in the 30th and 80th minutes and four-pointers to Michael Lichaa (36th minute) and Josh Jackson (53rd minute) gave Canterbury their victory.

Coach Craig Bellamy was happy with Melbourne's defence but unimpressed with their efforts with the ball.

"I thought our defence was outstanding with the amount of pressure we put on ourselves but we were certainly very, very embarrassed about our performance with the footy," he said.

"It wasn't so much the amount of ball we turned over on plays or catch-and-pass - we just lost so much in the tackle. Dropping the ball as we got up to play it, not playing the ball properly ..."

"We had the same problem last week and it is something we need to look at. We had the top completions in the competition last year, but the last two weeks we have completed at 50 per cent. You aren't going to win many games like that. Tonight we were lucky to be nil."

Bellamy was confident Billy Slater would recover sufficiently from a shoulder injury to be ready for Melbourne's season opener against St George Illawarra on March 7.