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A brilliant Matt Burton clutch play ensured the Bulldogs sent interim coach Mick Potter out a winner after coming back from 16-0 down to snatch a 21-20 win against the Sea Eagles on Friday night.

Canterbury had seemed destined to finish their season on the wrong end of the scoreboard after conceding three tries in the opening 17 minutes against a Manly team determined to snap a six game losing streak.

However, the Bulldogs showed character to fight their way back into the match and a 75th minute Kyle Flanagan try drew the scores level at 20-20.

After missing the conversion, Burton created another opportunity to snatch victory by launching a spiralling bomb in the dying minutes that was put down by rookie Sea Eagles fullback Keao Weekes.

Burton then calmly put himself in position to slot the match winning field in the 79th minute to give the Bulldogs their seventh win of the season. 

Match snapshot

  • Sea Eagles captain Daly Cherry-Evans got his team off to an ideal start when he backed up a mid-field break by forward Toafofoa Sipley and received a pass from Dylan Walker to score in just the fourth minute. 
  • The Kangaroos halfback hopeful then put Manly ahead 10-0 in almost even time when he threw a long, harbour bridge-style pass for Tongan winger Christian Tuipulotu to cross out wide.

DCE puts it on a platter for Tuipulotu

  • Prop Martin Taupau, who received a farewell at 4Pines Park last week but is yet to announce where he will play after returning from the World Cup with Samoa, continued the onslaught when he crashed over in the 17th minute.
  • However, momentum began to turn midway through the first half and only the desperate defence of Tuipulotu prevented Josh Addo-Carr from scoring in the 25th minute.
  • The Sea Eagles were unable to hold on for long though, with Braidon Burns scoring three minutes later after Raymond Faitala-Mariner off-loaded to halfback Kyle Flanagan, who shovelled the ball onto his centre.

Great hands in the wet

  • Bulldogs interchange dummy-half Zach Dockar-Clay burrowed over to score in the 36th minute after another Faitala-Mariner charge at the line to reduce the margin to 16-12 at halftime.
  • An 80-metre intercept try from centre Aaron Schoupp levelled the scores at 16-16 in the 49th minute.  

Bulldogs back in business

  • Cherry-Evans appeared to have regained control of the match for the Sea Eagles when he grubbed from dummy-half early on the tackle count for Haumole Olakau'atu to race onto the kick and score in the 63rd minute.
  • A stunning pick up and pass from Tevita Pangai Jnr for halfback Kyle Flanagan to score after Matt Burton had batted back a kick from his halves partner levelled the scores with just five minutes remaining.

Flanagan crosses to lock things up

  • Burton missed the conversion attempt that would have put his side in front but he finished as the hero after putting up a trademark spiral bomb that rookie Sea Eagles fullback Kaeo Weekes was unable to take.
  • The NSW Origin star then landed the match winning field goal with less than two minutes on the clock to snatch what had seemed like an unlikely win when they trailed 16-0. 

Play of the game

After failing to convert Flanagan's 75th minute try, Burton gave the Bulldogs and himself another chance to snatch victory by directing a towering spiral bomb at rookie Sea Eagles fullback Kaeo Weekes, who put it down. Burton then got himself in position for a shot at field goal and calmly slotted it to secure the 21-20 win.

Burton's boot puts Bulldogs in front

What they said

"We got our just desserts in the end tonight. We started well and had complete control and were guilty of a bit of inexperience in parts. That game was there to be had. We should have finished the game and we didn't. It was a disappointing result on the back end of a disappointing six or seven weeks. We've got a bit of work to do regardless of circumstance and we'll get that done over the off-season and come back ready for 2023." — Manly coach Des Hasler

Sea Eagles: Round 25

"Just to get the win is the most satisfying thing. To slip behind 16 points and then pull that back shows some guts and passion they have for the club so I'm really proud of the players. Our players have some character about them; I'm really proud of that and they should be proud of that too." — Bulldogs interim coach Mick Potter

Bulldogs: Round 25

What's next 

With the season officially finished for both teams, attention will turn to the World Cup and preparations for 2023.

Canterbury welcome new coach Cameron Ciraldo after his commitments with Penrith end in coming weeks and he will be joined by Panthers strike second-rower Viliame Kikau and Eels hooker Reed Mahoney.

Former NSW Origin star Josh Reynolds is also set to return to the club next season on a train and trial contract after a stint in the Super League.

Dolphins-bound hooker Jeremy Marshall-King played his last game for the Bulldogs against the Sea Eagles, while the departures of Jack Hetherington (Knights) and Paul Vaughan (Warrington) have also been confirmed.

For Manly, Dylan Walker, Kieran Foran, Martin Taupau and Andrew Davey are among the players whose time at Brookvale has now come to an end.

Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler used 32 players this season and blooded a number of youngsters who are considered the future of the club, including Tolutau Koula,  Kaeo Weekes and Zac Fulton.

Burton and Addo-Carr are expected to join Cherry-Evans and injured Manly forward Jake Trbojevic in the Kangaroos train-on squad for the World Cup to be named next week.

Acknowledgement of Country

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs respect and honour the Darug and Eora nations, who are the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.