The Dragons defeated the Bulldogs 34-24 on the back of six tries to four in a bouncing and frantic clash at Belmore Sports Ground.
The Bulldogs opened the score with a penalty for Matt Burton after the Dragons were pinged for being offside with the Dogs about to attack.
MATCH CENTER: Bulldogs vs Dragons Teams, SuperCoach Scores, Videos, Updates
Stream every game of every round of the 2022 NRL Telstra Premiership Season Live & Ad-Break Free while playing on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try now for 14 days for free.
Dragons debutant Tautau Moga jumped high into the corner with an acrobatic finish to give the visitors the lead on the first attempt of the afternoon.
The Dragons made it two in four minutes when their other winger Mathew Feagai came close to make it 10-2.
Dragons skipper Ben Hunt meandered through a weak defense after a horror kick from Burton to extend the lead.
The Bulldogs hit back with their first attempt of the afternoon to center Jake Averillo to narrow the deficit to 10 points at halftime.
Averillo picked up where he left off in the first half to grab a double and get the Bulldogs right back into the game at 16-12.
Matt Dufty produced blistering speed to set up Kyle Flanagan for a bid to see the Bulldogs take the lead.
Zac Lomax ducked across to see the Dragons retake the lead in a seesaw clash at Belmore.
Andrew McCullough came off the bench and scored from dummy half to extend Dragons’ lead to 28-18.
Burton set up a try for Aaron Schoupp after a pinpoint grubber for Josh Addo-Carr to narrow the deficit to four points with 13 minutes left.
However, Blake Lawrie attacked for his first NRL attempt to put the icing on the cake of a major Dragons win.
These are the main points from the match†
HUNT SEEMS TO LEAD DRAGONS TO VICTORY IN THRILLER
On the eve of Origin roster, Dragons skipper Ben Hunt showed his class to lead his side to a crucial win over the Bulldogs.
Hunt finished with 35 yards, two tackle busts, a linebreak and a try, but it was his composure under pressure and his kick game that brought the Dragons home.
Cooper Cronk believes Hunt was the difference between the two sides, especially in the first half with his trap play.
“Ben Hunt just did his thing and controlled the momentum,” Cronk said.
“The Dragons had eight straight sets in the first half and that’s why the scoreboard was what it was.”
Michael Ennis believes Hunt’s fingerprints were all over the win, especially when they took the game away from the Bulldogs in the first half.
“Ben Hunt had some really nice moments,” said Ennis.
“Three tries in seven minutes in that first half for the Dragons and it just blew the Dogs out of the water quickly.”
BURTON’S KICKING WOES BURNS BULLDOGS
He bounced back in the second half, but Matt Burton’s kicking misery hurt the Bulldogs in a horror first half as they caught up at 16-2.
Michael Ennis and Cooper Cronk lamented Burton’s poor kicking game, which allowed the Dragons to score three tries in seven minutes in one phase.
“We talked before the game about the Bulldogs not being able to give up cheap points and immediately hand in 16 points again here,” said Ennis.
“It’s so hard for them without the offensive fluency to run around edges when they’re giving away leads like that.
“And Matt Burton’s first-half trap play was disastrous.”
“It wasn’t good, they finished it in handling, but made four fouls in the first half,” said Cronk.
“There was the kick on the full and a few long ones that Matt Burton is normally very accurate with.
“When the Dragons scored their points in bunches, it was the mistakes from the back of the stairs that gave them fielding position.
“To make sure the Bulldogs are an opportunity Matt Burton needs to improve his trap game.”
To his credit, Burton held the Bulldogs in the second half with 47 yards, a linebreak, linebreak assist and try assist, but it was too little, too late.
RAMSEY AND DUFTY IN AN ENCHANTING DUEL
Matt Dufty would always be up for a big game against the club that let him go and his fight with his replacement Cody Ramsey did not disappoint.
Dufty finished with 116 yards, four tackle busts, a linebreak, two linebreak assists and three try assists in an outstanding performance against his old team.
The man who replaced him, Cody Ramsey, was also strong with 138 meters, a linebreak assist and a try assist, although he made three errors.
Dufty was clearly enjoying himself, especially after trying Kyle Flanagan, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to get the Bulldogs home.
Rasmey is still a work in progress, but his toughness and organization at the back helped the Dragons secure a crucial win and he appears to have cemented the No. 1 jersey for the remainder of the season.
The Bulldogs return to their spiritual home, Belmore Sports Ground, to host the Dragons in a vital showdown.
Tevita Pangai Jr is out due to back spasms and Joe Stimson joins the bench for the Bulldogs.
Interim coach Mick Potter is looking for his first win at the helm and hopes a return to the iconic terrain will reinvigorate his struggling side.
The Dogs showed encouraging signs in the second half against the Tigers last week, but a solid 40 minutes won’t win them a game.
The Dragons also have plenty to play for with the ability to rack up consecutive wins en route to a bye round.
Canterbury-Bankstown gets a much-needed boost in Josh Addo-Carr’s return from illness, while in-form striker Corey Waddell also returns to the 17.
As for the Dragons, veteran hooker Andrew McCullough is back from a thumb injury but has been benched with Moses Mbye starting.
Cody Ramsey retains the No. 1 jersey after impressing last week, while Mikaele Ravalawa has been ruled out due to a hamstring injury. Tautau Moga takes his place on the wing in what will be his first NRL match in the Red V.
Get all the latest NRL news, highlights and analysis straight to your inbox with Fox Sports Sportmail. Apply now!!
Relive the action in our blog below. If you can’t see it, click here.