In a scrappy affair at Brookvale Oval the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs ground their way to a 16-12 victory over the Manly Sea Eagles.
Coach Des Hasler named an unchanged line-up to the one that beat Parramatta 32-12 last round. Manly on the other hand had their captain Jamie Lyon and Blake Leary ruled out late, with Brayden Williame and Justin Horo coming into the side.
Manly had the better of the opening exchanges and went closest in the 11th minute with a half-chance fumbled by Tom Symonds on the back of a Matt Ballin grubber.
It was the Bulldog’s that drew first blood though with Tim Lafai scoring untouched in the 17th minute after a Brett Morris break earlier in the set saw the blue and whites on the charge. Trent Hodkinson sprayed the conversion for a 4-0 lead.
Manly were gifted the chance to hit straight back courtesy of an Aiden Tolman error on his own 25m line. Manly crossed the line with Cheyse Blair collecting a Brett Stewart kick but had the try disallowed for obstruction.
Mounting pressure eventually told with Feleti Mateo proving too elusive in the 30th minute. Steve Matai struck the upright from just beside the posts to leave the scores level.
Bulldogs sought an immediate comeback collecting the ball from the kick-off. A subsequent penalty gave the Bulldogs another opportunity to attack but a dropped ball from David Klemmer relieved the pressure.
Lafai soon after collected his second of the night after a Moses Mbye bomb bounced awkwardly for Manly and into the hands of Sam Perrett, who put Lafai in again untouched. Hodkinson added the extras for a 10-4 lead in the 37th minute, just as the rain started to get heavier.
The boys headed to the sheds with a six point lead. Aiden Tolman with nine runs and 21 tackles topped the counts with skipper James Graham (nine runs and 19 tackles) not far behind.
In the 50th minute Matai collected a Daly Cherry-Evans grubber and despite the great effort of Tolman to hold him up, was awarded the try by the video referee. Cherry-Evans stepped up for the conversion and made a meal of it too, leaving things 10-8.
A Manly error from the subsequent set of six gifted the Bulldogs a great chance to extend their lead further but the Sea Eagles’ defence stood tall, with Mbye tackled on the last a disappointing end to the six.
It was a patchy, war of attrition in the second half which was further punctuated with Matai being assisted from the field in the 58th minute with an arm injury. Going into the final ten minutes it was nine errors a piece.
A floated pass from Mbye in the 70th minute found its mark with Perrett clutching the ball from well above his head to stroll over in the corner. Hodkinson hit his conversion sweetly to make it 16-8, giving his side an eight-point buffer.
Manly collected their own kick-off after it was allowed to bounce, with the stiff breeze causing havoc, and they made the possession count with a Cherry-Evans cutout finding an unmarked Peta Hiku. Cherry-Evans missed the conversion for a 16-12 scoreline, with five minutes remaining.
From there, a brave Bulldogs outfit saw the match out to collect the two competition points, with goal kicking proving the difference in the end.
Bulldogs are hosted by the Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium next Friday night with kick-off at 7:35pm local time.
BULLDOGS 16 (Lafai 2, Perrett Tries; Hodkinson 2 Goals) def. Manly 12 (Mateo, Matai, Hiku Tries)
At: Brookvale Oval, Manly