Fairytale rookie start

ROOKIE Brandon Wakeham had an NRL debut to remember on Sunday after receiving a late call up for Canterbury following the 11th hour departure of Rhyse Martin and being thrust into a playmaking role when Kieran Foran limped off in the first half.

Debuts for Dogs who hit lead early and thrillingly keep it

With Foran suffering a hamstring injury in the 25th minute, Wakeham partnered Jack Cogger in the halves and the Bulldogs defended an early 14-0 lead to hold out Cronulla and score an upset win, 14-12, at ANZ Stadium.
Wakeham, who played halfback for Fiji in last weekend’s defeat of Lebanon, had only been called into the Bulldogs squad for the match after Martin was granted a release hours before kick-off to take up an offer in Super League before the expiry of the June 30 transfer deadline.
The 20-year-old is a Bulldogs junior from the Chester Hill Hornets club who played for the club’s Harold Matthews and SG Ball teams before graduating to the Under 20s and NSWRL Canterbury Cup teams.
“We only found out over the last day or so [that Martin was leaving] and it was such a great effort from a young bloke,” coach Dean Pay said of Wakeham.
“He really stepped up and it didn’t phase him too much. He just went out and did a wonderful job.”
The win still leaves the Bulldogs at the foot of the Telstra Premiership ladder but they showed disregard for their position by racing to a 14-0 in the opening 20 minutes after Foran engineered tries for centre Will Hopoate and fullback Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.
“We are still a young, rebuilding team and it is going to take a little while but the effort there today was there and it is so pleasing for them,” Pay said.