It wasn’t the scoreline he was after, but it’s been a heartwarming return for out-of-luck Bulldogs star Marcelo Montoya who scored an impressive try to mark his long-awaited comeback in Cantebury’s 26-10 loss to the Rabbitohs.
Wayne Bennett’s men had the run of the play in a grinding clash at Bankwest Stadium on Sunday night to notch their first win playing away in 2020.
But it was Montoya’s 36th minute try that had Bulldogs fans elated after a rotten 353 day stint on the sidelines.
Montoya had been forced away from the game midway through last season after shattering his knee in an accident that doctors said resembled a car crash injury.
After a long stint in rehab, Montoya again injured himself in an attempted return and was forced back to the sidelines, only to be sent away from his family during the COVID-19 break due to his mother being an aged care worker.
Making his grand return on Sunday evening, a pin-point kick from teammate Brandon Wakeham was the perfect return gift needed.
Plucking the ball behind Souths’ line, he cruised across for a magic try shortly before half-time for the Bulldogs’ first against the Bunnies.
“It’s been bad luck after bad luck,” Fox Sports commentator Matt Russell said.
“It’s a terrific story of perseverance.”
WATCH THE BULLDOGS’ AND RABBITOHS’ FULL MATCH HIGHLIGTS HERE:
Earlier, Latrell Mitchell continued on his fullback journey playing in Alex Johnston for a stunning opener in the opening minutes.
Collecting the ball on Halfway, Mitchell flicked the ball on in a fraction of a second to Johnston who had acres of room ahead of him.
He tore down the line, put on a nice dummy to send his Dallin Watene-Zalezniak the wrong way, and skip across for the Bunnies’ first of the night.
“He makes it look so easy,” rugby league great Steve Roach said.
“He’s looking more comfortable (at fullback) every week,” agreed his fellow commentators.