Leading the NRL with eight wins from eleven games, the Canterbury Bulldogs look to extend their lead at the top this Friday night against Manly at Brookvale.
Coming off the bye round, the Bulldogs are still flying high at the top of the competition ladder, despite a loss to the Roosters without their Origin stars in Round 11.
The Roosters (minus three of their Origin representatives) were struggling to put the Bulldogs away, and were up by 2 with 20 minutes remaining. Some solid possession in the last quarter saw three tries scored against the Dogs, but Dale Finucane believes it’s not something to worry about.
“I thought we were really competitive up until the 60th minute in the game, I think there was only a try in it up until that point. I think we just faded away in the last 20 minutes. Both teams had key players missing so I don’t know what exactly you put it down to; I guess we just fell away in the last 20,” said Finucane.
NSW defeated Queensland 12-8 last Wednesday night, with Canterbury’s Josh Morris, Trent Hodkinson, Josh Reynolds & Tony Williams all putting in strong performances.
In particular the Bulldogs halves, Trent Hodkinson forced two line drop outs, made 20 tackles and kicked two goals, and Josh Reynolds made over 90m, 19 tackles and provided the connection for all the second phase play throughout the match.
Manly star halfback Daly Cherry Evans was called on early to cover for the injury to Cooper Cronk and didn’t disappoint QLD fans. Anthony Watmough had a solid display but came up with an arm injury late in the match.
For the first time in his short career, monstrous prop David Klemmer was injected into the game after 20 minutes. Usually coach Des Hasler uses Klemmer in the second half and not before, but he changed this up against an all-star Roosters pack including Jarrad Warea-Hargraves and Sonny Bill Williams.
Klemmer found himself in a running battle with JWH, and received high praise for his efforts after the match. He ran 17 times for 158m topping JWH’s 13 runs for 150m.“His development is going very well, you can forget how young he is, he just turned 20 and to come into this competition and perform at a level like that is a credit to him.
“He’s suffered a couple of injuries coming out of the 20s comp, we all saw how good he was, to keep that hunger and to keep his work ethic is a credit to him,” praised senior prop James Graham.
Origin Game 1 set new records for viewership, as it became the 3rd most viewed Origin game of all time. However, this came at a cost for NRL clubs, with many players unable to back up for club duties and some also out for extended periods of time.
Anthony Watmough (biceps) and Daly-Cherry Evans (leg) will try to prove their fitness this week after suffering injuries in Origin 1 and failing to back up against the Broncos on Sunday. Kieran Foran finally returned from an injury lay-off, but it could be short-lived, with the five-eighth apparently injuring himself again.
Superstar centre Josh Morris, who has become famous for shutting down Greg Inglis, picked up a knee injury in Origin 1 and will miss 6-8 weeks. Luckily for the blue and white faithful, Krisnan Inu is a former New Zealand International and will easily cover for Morris in the centres.
Utility Moses Mbye has also picked up a rare injury and will miss a big period of the season. His injury will force Des Hasler to pick a completely new halves pairing for Round 14 against Parramatta, when Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson return to Origin camp next week.
The last time these two sides met, the Bulldogs led for the majority of the match before Manly came back and leveled the scores at full-time. During golden point extra time, Josh Reynolds was controversially up-ended in a tackle and the Bulldogs subsequently received a penalty goal opportunity. Former Manly halfback Trent Hodkinson slotted it and gave his side an upset 32-30 win at Brookvale Oval.
Canterbury have won 6 of their past 10 games against Manly, four of those wins coming in the last two years since Des Hasler arrived at the Bulldogs from the Northern beaches.
Head to Head
Played 118, Canterbury-Bankstown 51, Manly 62, Drawn