The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs tonight had no answer for a rampant Manly side who were 32-10 winners in trying conditions on a soggy winter’s night at Brookvale Oval.
Bulldogs welcomed back their Origin stars with Josh Reynolds, Trent Hodkinson and Tony Williams all returning after defeating Queensland in the series opener. The omission of course being Josh Morris who the Bulldogs will be without for an estimated 6-8 weeks after he suffered a knee injury.
Bulldogs were greeted by a very muddy pitch as they ran out for their Round 13 fixture and although they’d won seven of their previous 11 at Brookvale, a real arm wrestle for the first 15 minutes of the match suggested that a win here wouldn’t come easily.
After a battle for territory in the opening period, the first points of the night went to winger Mitch Brown who crossed in the 17th minute after Tim Lafai’s quick hands gave Brown room to step past the sliding Manly defence. Hodkinson added the extras for a 6-0 lead.
Lafia was again heavily involved soon after, breaking through in the 21st minute before releasing Brown but Manly skipper Jamie Lyon covered to shut down the move.
The Sea Eagles hit back in the 29th minute after Daly Cherry-Evans grubbered through for himself before a scramble saw him scoop up the ball and put Steve Matai over in the corner. Lyon converted to level it up at 6-6.
On the back of a repeat set from a dropout, Manly crossed this time via substitute Jesse Sene-Lefao who burrowed over next to the posts in the 34th minute. Lyon raised the flags to make it 12-6.
Manly crossed again in the following set with Cherry-Evans darting through the line before sending Lyon clear who in turn released Peta Hiku, who had a free run to the line. Lyon converted to make it 18-6 with three minutes until half time. And that’s how the scores stayed at the break.
A cheap turnover from the first set of the second half gave Manly the chance to extend their lead further and after being awarded a penalty a tackle later, took the two to make it 20-6 in the 42nd minute.
On the back of another penalty in the 44th minute, Manly marched up the field again but this time went away empty-handed with the Bulldogs defence holding firm. It was the last the match saw of Cherry-Evans who limped off with a knee injury.
Brett Stewart soon got in on the act kicking through a loose Kieran Foran grubber before planting the ball down. Lyon converted and at the 50th minute mark it was 26-6.
A cross-field kick from Reynolds not long after found its way through to an unmarked Chase Stanley who dived over in the 55th minute. Hodkinson shaved the outside of the post with his conversion attempt leaving the score 26-10.
Stewart put the result beyond doubt in the 69th minute with the Manly fullback collecting his second of the night after claiming a bomb before diving over under the sticks. Lyon added the two for a 22-point lead.
There were plenty of heavy legs as the match drew to an error-riddled close, with the score remaining 32-10.
Bulldogs next Sunday afternoon host the Eels at ANZ Stadium with kick off at 3pm local time.
MANLY 32 (Stewart 2, Matai, Sene-Lefao, Hiku Tries; Lyon 6 Goals) def. BULLDOGS 10 (Brown, Stanley Tries; Hodkinson 1 Goal)
At: Brookvale Oval