The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs aim for two in a row this Friday night when they go head to head with Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at Broovale Oval.
Both Canterbury and Manly suffered first round losses (against Penrith & Parramatta respectively) but bounced back in round 2 with the Dogs defeating Parramatta 32-12 and the Eagles upsetting Melbourne 24-22.
The Bulldogs look to have embraced their new recruit Brett Morris, giving the number 1 the opportunity to showcase his speed and power. Scoring 3 tries from his last two games, averaging 147m from 13 runs he’s proving a handful for opposition sides.
“He’s been outstanding. Since he first signed he’s taken that fullback role and he’s really worked hard on it in the pre-season. He’s come out firing in the first two weeks. He’s been tremendous for us. His running game is so quick and fast. His tackle breaks and everything pretty much in his game has been good for the moment.
“That’s what he needs to continue to do, that’s his job, that’s his role for our team. He needs to play consistently week in week out at the moment he’s playing some good footy so he needs to continue,” said co-captain Aiden Tolman.
Manly welcomed back New Zealand representative Steve Matai who scored a try last week in their win over Melbourne, with skilful back rower Feleti Mateo covering for the injured Kieran Foran in the halves.
A spirited Parramatta side in Round 1 bullied their forward pack, but they answered their critics last week after a tumultuous week with the signings of Kieran Foran to Parramatta and Daly Cherry Evans to the Gold Coast.
“Manly’s one of those teams that every year there’s always something written about them but they always seem to turn up. Player’s leave or whatever but someone new comes in and does a great job for them, I think that’s the culture they’ve got there.
“That’s the same for us this week. They’ve got some quality players there than can damage you and we need to make sure we do a job on them. They’ve got a good forward pack that goes forward, you saw that last week in the Melbourne game against another quality side and got the win,” added Tolman.
Without Glenn Stewart, Anthony Watmough, Brent Kite, Jason King and George Rose, some said that Manly would never be the same up front. However, young Bulldogs front rower and giant David Klemmer dismissed that opinion.
“They’ve got a quality pack, Luke Burgess, Willie Mason, Jamie Buhrer’s coming back so that’s a big bonus for them. Feleti Mateo’s going good in the halves there so they’ve got danger around the park, so it’s going to be a good game.”
Mason takes on the side he debuted with way back in 2000, and as he did at the Roosters, big Willie always steps up against the blue and whites.
Bulldogs forward Tim Browne isn’t worried, and is looking forward to the challenge against the former Australian and NSW Origin enforcer.
“He’s been someone for me as a front rower I probably looked up to when I was younger. Its great to play against players like that. I enjoy anything that comes my way.”
Canterbury has won 5 of the last 8 games against Manly including 2 of the last 3 at Brookvale Oval. Bulldogs halfback and NSW Origin hero Trent Hodkinson plays his 100th career game this Friday night against his former club.
Head to Head
Played 121, Manly 63, Canterbury 53, drawn 5
At Brookvale Oval
Played 56, Manly 34, Canterbury 19, drawn 3
Words: Jack Novak