Sea Eagles v Bulldogs: Five Key Points
The Sea Eagles turned Lottoland into the fortress it once was with a 36-0 win over an out of sorts Bulldogs side on Saturday afternoon.
Here are five key points from the game.
Mixed results for milestone men
Sea Eagles skipper Daly Cherry-Evans celebrated his 150th game in the NRL in style with five try assists, including four in the first half. The star halfback returned to form in Manly's big win last week in Townsville but took his game to even scarier heights on Saturday afternoon with one of the best performances of his career. Every facet of his game was on song, with DCE supplying tries with passes, right and left-footed kicks, as well as through his running game. It was a different story for Bulldogs winger Brett Morris whose 200th first-grade game was one he'd rather forget. The day started with him putting down a bomb, and it didn't get much better with Morris making just 22 metres from five runs. It wasn't the result he deserved, and it now means he has lost his 100th, 150th and 200th NRL matches.
Sea Eagles man up in the middle
Most people assumed this game would be won in the middle. They just didn't expect the Sea Eagles to be the team to dominate the battle of the packs. Boasting an all-international forward pack, the Bulldogs were outrun by more than 500 metres with lock David Klemmer the only player to record triple digits. It was a different story for the Sea Eagles with starting props Martin Taupau (168 metres) and Brenton Lawrence (116) setting the platform for their smaller men to run riot. They were ably supported by bench players Nate Myles (116) and Addin Fonua-Blake (103), with the latter setting up Apisai Koroisau for a try early in the second half.
Canterbury's attacking woes continue
The Bulldogs' win in New Zealand last week proved to be a false dawn with Canterbury kept scoreless on a day they never really looked like getting over the line. The Bulldogs have amassed just 54 points from four matches this season, with the Storm, Cowboys, Warriors and Wests Tigers the only teams to have scored fewer points, and they've only played three games in 2017. The Bulldogs managed just one line break on Saturday, and they looked even less threatening from the boot with halves Moses Mbye and Josh Reynolds unable to apply any pressure through their kicking games. They'll need to improve immediately with a showdown against the dynamic Broncos looming next week.
Lottoland curse lifted
It's been a long time between drinks at Brookvale/Lottoland, but the Sea Eagles can finally say they've won a game at their spiritual home ground. Manly had lost their past four at the venue – and eight of the last 10 – but bounced back in style to repay the faith shown by their diehard supporters. The ground has always held special meaning for the Sea Eagles and if they can turn Lottoland into a Fortress once more, they could emerge as a top eight smoky.
Kelly the new BK on the block
Ben Kennedy will most likely go down as the best 'BK' in Sea Eagles history, but rookie centre Brian Kelly is living up to the famous initials after another impressive showing at Lottoland. Kelly has now scored in all three of his matches at the venue, with the youngster adding two more tries to the tally on Saturday afternoon. The first came after he grounded a Blake Green grubber on the left edge, and he doubled his tally shortly after when he charged onto a pass from Cherry-Evans later in the half. The former Titan is shaping as one of the most exciting rookies of 2017, with Kelly producing the sort of footy that made him a representative star coming up through the ranks.