Manly is out for revenge this Friday night, after Canterbury knocked them out of the final series in 2014 with a nail-biting 1-point thriller.
Ever since Manly legend and hero Des Hasler departed the Northern Beaches in favour of the blue and whites of Belmore, an unofficial rivalry has kicked off.
After winning his second grand final as a coach of the Manly side, Hasler looked to the Bulldogs as a new challenge and to create a new dynasty. He had previously led Manly to Grand Finals in 2007, 2008 and 2011, beating Melbourne in 2008 and the Warriors in 2011.
Canterbury had not reached the “big dance” since they won the premiership way back in 2004 against Sydney Roosters, and many said Hasler was the man to turn it around for them.
He did just that, leading the Dogs to the Grand Final in his first year 2012 and 2014, to add to his tally of 5 Grand Final appearances in 8 years.
However, some on the Northern Beaches were obviously upset that their hero had moved on, but a fantastic replacement was born into the world of NRL coaching and another club legend, Geoff Toovey got his chance to show his coaching prowess.
Toovey led Manly to a preliminary final in his first year as coach in 2012, before backing up the next year and making the Grand Final, only to lose to the Roosters. He again took Manly to the finals in 2014, but it wasn’t to be.
The Bulldogs were written off after limping into the finals, however when they met Manly in the first week of the finals series, they were back to their best. A field goal from Trent Hodkinson sealed it for the Bulldogs as they won 18-17 to break the hearts of Manly players and fans alike.
Canterbury has faced Manly a total of 8 times since Hasler left the Northern beaches. The Bulldogs leading the tally with 5 wins to 3. An average margin of only 8 points separates these two great clubs.
“They’ll come out firing this week. They had a good win on Saturday and they’ll be coming out to win the footy game,” added Canterbury’s David Klemmer on Manly this Friday night.
Words: Jack Novak