The Dragons skipped out to a 16-6 lead in the first half but two Bulldogs tries after the break brought the strong Belmore crowd back into the game as the home side stole the lead.
However, crucial errors after points helped the Red V get back on track with tries to Zac Lomax and Andrew McCullough enabling the visitors to go up by 10 with a quarter of the game remaining.
Canterbury hit back to get within four through Aaron Schoupp but a costly error from Englishman Luke Thompson killed off any momentum the Bulldogs had late.
The Dragons sealed the win when Blake Lawrie crashed over from close range for the first try of his NRL career.
For the Bulldogs, their attack showed improvement compared to recent weeks but their defensive resolve particularly on their line was inexcusable.
- Matt Burton endured an unhappy start to the game with several kicks going too deep before he put the ball out on the full at a kick restart.
- The Bulldogs took a 2-0 lead early via a penalty goal before the Dragons struck gold with three tries in seven minutes.
- Tautau Moga scored his first NRL try since 2019 when he crossed in the corner for the Red V on club debut.
- Tries to Cody Ramsey and Ben Hunt extended the Dragons' lead but it quickly evaporated as the Bulldogs struck back with two tries of their own.
- Matt Dufty had a mixed afternoon against his old side, setting up a brilliant try for Kyle Flanagan before letting a ball bounce that enabled the Dragons to take a 10-point lead.
- Opposite number Cody Ramsey was safe under the high ball all afternoon despite gusty conditions in a happy result for the Dragons who are looking to lock down a permanent fullback.
- The battle between Zac Lomax and Aaron Schoupp in the centres was among the highlights with the pair crossing for a try each.
- Bulldogs centre Jake Averillo scored the second double of his career with tries before and after half-time.
- Bulldogs winger Josh Addo-Carr was caught out twice in defence with his spot in the Origin I line-up reportedly under pressure.
Play of the game
The impact of Andrew McCullough late can't be underestimated. Dragons coach Anthony Griffin said the veteran hooker, returning from a thumb injury, would only feature in the final 20 minutes of the game. He came on and scored immediately before setting up Blake Lawrie to prove the difference.
What they said
"We've done a good job over the last seven weeks. We've won five out of seven going into the bye now. We'll be better at the back end of the year. Today was always going to be tough. They've got some brilliant players and they're hard to defend against. We scored 32 points which is enough to win two games. Our attack is building nicely now." - Dragons coach Anthony Griffin.
"It's certainly disappointing, we were in the game. Our defence needs to be a lot better than what it is. We let ourselves down with some cheap tries. It's the second week. [Our goal line defence] is just non-existent, there's no toughness to it at all. We're not tough enough at the moment." - Bulldogs interim coach Mick Potter.
The Bulldogs have a short five-day turnaround to prepare for an undermanned Penrith Panthers side at BlueBet Stadium. Canterbury will know by Sunday night if Josh Addo-Carr will be available after reports emerged he may be overlooked for Origin I.
St George Illawarra have a bye in round 13, ensuring most of their players get a break over the Origin series opener period.
Story first published on NRL.com