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A rookie Canterbury half playing his seventh NRL game has destroyed the Warriors, who butchered a gilt-edged chance to confirm their place in the 2018 NRL finals and cruelled their top-four hopes with an inexplicable 27-26 loss to the battling Bulldogs.

Lachlan Lewis – nephew of the Immortal Wally – capped a magnificent all-round performance with a towering 79th-minute field goal to win the game.

After back-to-back supreme defensive displays that saw them leak just 16 points in the previous fortnight, the Warriors leaked four tries against the NRL’s worst attacking outfit. They lacked intensity, concentration and composure, following up precision attack with subpar defence.

Key players bottled the vital moments, if they weren’t altogether ordinary. The Warriors too often left the one-percenters to the bloke next them, who opted to do the same. Instead, a team with little to play for except pride and boasting a fraction of the talent got the job done on the back of enthusiasm, desire and spirit.

Blake Green came off with a leg injury in the latter stages in a further concern, but the five-eighth could easily have been hooked by Stephen Kearney for some awful execution when the game was in the balance. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck yet again showed his teammates what week-to-week high performance looks like.

The Warriors struck first on the back of multiple amateur errors from the Bulldogs, with Gerard Beale slicing through after neat adlib work from Tuivasa-Sheck and Shaun Johnson in the 10th minute.

But they were made to pay when Ken Maumalo let a goal-line dropout go into touch.

The 22-year-old Lewis served up a beautiful short ball for Adam Elliott, who reached out to score and level up at 6-all.

The early momentum had shifted dramatically.

The Bulldogs marched downfield on a Reimis Smith break, and the young winger scored a couple of minutes later when he breezed through a dreadful goal-line tackle from Simon Mannering.

The hosts’ brittle red-zone defence buckled at its next opportunity, though, as Johnson put Isaiah Papali’i into a half-gap before the second-row tyro offloaded for his skipper to score – remarkably, just RTS’s third try of 2018.

Then the familiar jagged, tetanus-inducing end of the refereeing stick thwarted the Warriors late in the half.

A bogus offside penalty in front of the posts allowed the Bulldogs to edge back in front, while two forward passes were missed as Lewis bagged his first NRL try seconds out from the siren.

Down 20-12 at the break, the Warriors looked tired a dishevelled in the early stages of the second stanza but made a vital breakthrough via a brilliant David Fusitu’a diving finish in the 48th minute.

But it was negated by handing the Bulldogs an immediate opportunity – Johnson having his fifth-tackle kick charged down – that eventually saw the Morris twins combine off a Lewis bomb, with Josh dotting down for 26-16.

Fusitu’a had a double with 23 minutes to go following a searing Luke break and slick work from Johnson, cutting the deficit to six.

A long, frustrating impasse finally ended with Adam Blair busting through and offloading superbly for Peta Hiku to dive over close to the posts. Johnson’s cool conversion levelled the scoreboard with three minutes to go.

Johnson, though, put in an ordinary kick at the end of the ensuing set that gave the Bulldogs a chance to win it at the end of theirs.

And Lewis stepped up to take it with a booming, angled one-pointer from beyond the 30-metre line to drive a dagger into the Warriors’ fans hearts.

The Warriors again find themselves in eighth, still four points clear of Wests Tigers but agonisingly just short of booking their finals pass. Their assignment against under-pressure Penrith in five days’ time suddenly looks far less appetising.

But Kearney needs to pick them up as the Warriors at least look to grab a home final in week one with too many other results needing to fall their way to now finish top-four.

Stepping back and taking a neutral perspective for a second, how about Lachlan Lewis? The Bulldogs have stumbled across something special with this kid.

Canterbury Bulldogs 27 (Adam Elliott, Reimis Smith, Lachlan Lewis, Josh Morris tries; Rhyse Martin 4 goals; Lewis field goal) defeated Warriors 26 (David Fusitu’a 2, Gerard Beale, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Peta Hiku tries; Shaun Johnson 3 goals) at ANZ Stadium.

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