Hopoate scores on Debut
The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have started the 2016 season with a convincing 28-6 win over the Manly Sea-Eagles.
In what was a dominant opening 40 minutes, the blue and whites went to the half-time break leading 22-nil, running in four tries to the Eagles none. It was a try apiece in the second stanza but the match was clearly won in the first half.
There was just one change to the side that Coach Des Hasler selected earlier in the week with interchange forward Danny Fualalo ruled out due to illness with Lloyd Perrett the man coming in to replace him.
An error on a kick return gifted possession to the blue and whites and with Hurstville junior Chase Stanley earning a penalty on the first tackle. From the ensuing set hooker Michael Lichaa controlled the set and a smart shift that was helped by James Graham who played the role of halfback. The ball then went into the hands of Josh Reynolds who threw a smart ball over the top to Sam Perrett who cruised over to open the scoring for 2016. Moses Mbye took the conversion attempt but couldn’t convert, leaving the score at 4-nil after 11 minutes.
The home side were shooting themselves in the foot with another error handing over possession deep in their own territory. And once again the Bulldogs turned it into points, this time through new recruit Will Hopoate. It was some ‘off the cuff’ play that saw Reynolds put through a grubber and Hopoate turned on the afterburners and won the race to the ball, scoring just millimetres before the dead-ball line. Mbye converted on this occasion from in front to extend the lead out to 10-nil after 16 minutes.
Lock forward Greg Eastwood was replaced by Sam Kasinao in the 24th minute and the Samoan international made an immediate impact. Two early touches early in the set from the big man were impressive but it was the third that brought the Bulldogs faithful to their feet. Lichaa chose to throw the short ball to Kasiano and he picked it up from shin height before then barging over to score under the uprights. Mbye again converted with the score now 16-nil.
Five minutes before the break the lead was extended with Josh Morris scoring his 100th career try. On this occasion it was a penalty that marched the side down field and in what topped off a great 40 minutes for the side, Mbye put in a grubber and Morris won the race to the ball to score. The five-eighth converted his third try from four attempts to put the lead out to 22-nil.
Coach Des Hasler would have been impressed with his side’s efforts in the opening 40 minutes whilst his opposite Trent Barrett would have needed to think of something special to turn it all around. Sea-Eagles players Steve Matai (high tackle) and Marty Taupau (shoulder charge) were both placed on report in the first half.
Stanley did not return after the half-time break with Josh Jackson moving to centre and debutant Adam Elliott going straight out there and into the second row on the right side.
The 51st and 53rd minutes saw the Bulldogs have two tries disallowed with Jackson being held up over the line before Lichaa was ruled to have knocked on as he burrowed over attempting to score.
The Sea-Eagles were able to open their account in the 65th minute through winger Jorge Taufua. The decision was sent to the NRL’s Bunker and it was ruled that the winger had managed to regather the ball and get it down before sliding into touch. Captain Jamie Lyon converted from the sideline, closing the gap to 22-6.
Curtis Rona crossed for his first try of the season in the 73rd minute and whilst Mbye gets the try assist, Jackson should be credited as he pushed Taufua over the sideline on a kick chase. From the scrum the ball was pushed wide immediately and Rona ended up with the ball and had a clear passage to the try line. Mbye couldn’t convert with the score staying 26-6.
A late penalty was converted by Mbye whish rubbed a little bit of salt into the wound for the home side.
BULLDOGS 28 (S Perrett, Hopoate, Kasiano, Morris, Rona Tries; Mbye 4 Goals
SEA-EAGLES 6 (Taufua Try; Lyon 1 Goal)
At: Brookvale Oval