The visitors overcame the top-placed Panthers 34-14 at Victoria Park.
However the Panthers still have a shot at the title. They will take on Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles in the semi-final tomorrow at the National Stadium in Nikao.
Cook Islands Rugby League competition coordinator Tai Nelio said the last time the Panthers and the Bulldogs met, it was the former who managed to sneak home with a close score.
“Coming into this game, the Panthers was favourites to win, topping the ladder on first placing after the preliminary rounds. Bulldogs on second,” Nelio said.
“The Bulldogs came in this game as underdogs and they didn't mind that.
They were more hungry and ready on the day with their preparation, whereas the Panthers were taking their time. It showed in their game in general allowing the Bulldogs to get away on the score board.”
Nelio said the Panthers were a shadow of the side that took the preliminary round by storm.
“The Panthers didn't use their home and crowd advantage. Their lack of discipline gave the Bulldogs territory advantage. The intensity and energy wasn't there,” he said.
“Bulldogs had a different idea and made the most of it, giving it back and hard to the Panthers’ bigger forward packs in attack and defence.
“The Bulldogs dummy half (Ozzy) Tunupopo was a real menace to the Panthers. At the back of those yardages, the Bulldogs speeders finished off the moves with some brilliant tries.”
Nelio also said the reserves semis between the Panthers and the Sea Eagles will be an interesting tussle, as both teams will go all out for a place in the showdown.
Meanwhile due to the number of SDA players in the Bulldogs team, Nelio said the reserves grand finale is likely be played on Thursday next week.
“This will be tabled and confirmed at the CIRL Monday meeting,” he added.
10.45am U9/11 – Tupapa Panthers-Arorangi Bears, U9/11 – Nga/Mat Sea Eagles-Avatiu Eels; 11.30am U13 – Nga/Mat Sea Eagles-Arorangi Bears; 12.25pm U16 – Nga/Mat Sea Eagles-Arorangi Bears; 1.30pm U19 Arorangi Bears-Nga/Mat Sea Eagles; 2.55pm Reserves – Tupapa Panthers-Nga/Mat Sea Eagles; 4.30pm Premier – Tupapa Panthers-Avatiu Eels