Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
2 days ago
Canterbury Bulldogs 14 v Manly Sea Eagles 40
at Telstra Stadium
Referees: Sean Hampstead
An impressive Manly Sea Eagles have thumped a disappointing Canterbury Bulldogs 40-14 at Telstra Stadium. The Bulldogs were dominated in the first half and never recovered as a Ben Kennedy and Matt Orford led Manly side stormed home with the 2 points.
The first half started superbly for the Manly Sea Eagles with halfback Matt Orford scoring an early try thanks to some nice lead up work from young pivot Travis Burns. Orford got his second try not that long after when Matt Utai made a critical mistake in his in goal. The Dogs hit back in short time when former Queensland centre Willie Tonga scored out wide. However, that was all the glory that the Dogs would have in the first half with centre Steve Matai and winger Paul Stephenson scoring tries in the first half to make the score line 28-6 going in the halftime break.
Second half started off with a lot of errors from both teams which resulted in some sloppy football. The Dogs scored the first try through Matt Utai and one soon after to Sonny Bill Williams, but that was all the joy the Bulldogs will have in the second half with Manly scoring two tries to Ben Kennedy and Steven Bell for a 40-14 victory.
Ben Kennedy and Matt Orford were excellent for the away team, with both being inspirational in their team?s victory. Kennedy made plenty of meters and a heap of tackles while Matt Orford created many opportunities for his players and scored a couple of early tries himself.
The Bulldogs were disappointing and never looked like being in the match. They made too many errors early at the start of their sets and hence couldn?t apply any pressure to the Manly defence. The halves combination of Reni Maitua and Daniel Holdsworth struggled by lacking direction and lacking any creative spark.
Next week the Dogs tackle the Warriors at Erricson Stadium on Sunday afternoon, while the Eagles take on the Eels at the Sydney Cricket Ground in what is sure to be a terrific match.
Canterbury Bulldogs: 14
Tries: Willie Tonga, Matthew Utai, Sonny Bill Williams
Goals: Hazem El Masri 1/3
Manly Sea Eagles: 40
Tries: Ben Kennedy, Paul Stephenson(2), Matt Orford(2), Steve Matai, Steve Bell
Goals: Matt Orford 6/8
By the Clock:
Welcome to Telstra Stadium for the much anticipated contest between the Bulldogs and the Manly Sea Eagles. Both teams have been in decent form coming into today?s contest, with the Bulldogs having a solid win over the Bunnies whilst the Eagles battled hard for 80 minutes against the Dragons.
The Dogs definitely have the advantage in the forward pack with the likes of O'Meley, Mason, Asotasi and Sonny Bill Williams in the team. However the Eagles have the advantage in the creativity apartment with Matt Orford and Travis Burns forming a solid halves combination.
Great conditions here at Home bush with what looks like a fairly disappointing crowd considering the weather, the form of the teams and the fact this is the only Sydney game today.
Manly speedster Brett Stewart is out with a hand injury. Winger Chris Hicks moves to fullback and Paul Stephenson comes in on the wing.
The Bulldogs have a huge boost coming into the game with Kiwi winger Matt Utai being cleared of a rib injury and coming in on the wing at the expense of Trent Cutler.
Brad Morrin has also come on to the interchange bench to replace suspended forward Nate Myles.
0 min: KICK OFF at Telstra Stadium for this Round 7 clash between the Dogs and the Eagles!
2 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles
The Eagles have got off to the best start possible with Monaghan, Orford and Burns heavily involved. Monaghan offloads to Orford, who gives it off to Burns then throws it back to Orford who scores under the posts.
Orford converts from an easy position.
Sea Eagles 6-0
8 min: VIDEO REF - Orford looking for a second try. Video Referee looking to see if the Manly halfback has grounded the football correctly. The video ref awards the try to the Manly Sea Eagles.
8 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles
A lovely placed kick from former Manly captain Michael Monaghan forced Matt Utai to attempt to return the ball from the in goal only to be met in a great tackle which forces the ball loose and Matt Orford pounces on the loose ball to get his second try. A great start from the Eagles here at Telstra Stadium.
Orford converts his own try.
Sea Eagles 12-0
11 min: NEWS Manly are dominating the Bulldogs at the moment. Brent Kite and Ben Kennedy have had a solid starts to the game and the Dogs forward pack is not getting that roll on we are used to seeing.
13 min: NEWS The Dogs have their first real attacking opportunity and need to take advantage of the possession.
14 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs
The Dogs do take advantage of the good field possession with Willie Tonga scoring out wide after some nice offloading Willie Mason. This is shaping up to be a fantastic game of rugby league.
Hazem kicks it from the sideline.
Sea Eagles 12-6
17 min: NEWS Watmough makes a break down field then is stripped of the ball in a 2 man tackle. The Eagles kick for touch and are applying pressure to the Dogs defencive line.
19 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles
Paul Stephenson scores untouched after some great lead up work from Steve Menzies. The Beaver throws a beaut pass to Steve Bell who draws and passes to send the winger in to score.
Orford converts for a 12 point lead.
Sea Eagles 18-6
27 min: NEWS Exciting stuff from the Eagles who nearly score on last tackle. Sonny Bill Williams has come in to the game and immediately makes an impact with a nice shoulder charge. The momentum is starting to swing back in the way of the Doggies.
31 min: NEWS The Dogs attacking in the Eagles 20m zone. The Dogs looking very dangerous at the moment but let the Eagles of the hook with a mistake to Sonny Bill Williams.
34 min: NEWS VIDEO REF - Possible Steve Matai try. Video Ref looking to see weather Matai grounded the ball before Bulldogs winger Hazem El Masri. The Video Ref awards the try.
34 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles
A grubber kick from Matt Orford is not cleaned up by Luke Patten and Steve Matai pounces on the ball and grounds the ball at the same time as El Masri and the try is awarded.
Orford converts and notches up 1000 Career points.
Sea Eagles 24-6
39 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles
Matt Orford puts the ball in the air and Paul Stephenson takes a great catch looking into the sun. Manly have possibly just blown the game out of reach of the Bulldogs.
Orford misses the conversion from out wide.
Sea Eagles 28-6
40 min: Halftime here at Telstra Stadium.
Manly Sea Eagles 28 Canterbury Bulldogs 6
A half that has been dominated by the Manly Sea Eagles. Ben Kennedy has been leading from the front by making 99 meters. Matt Orford is playing excellent and in the process scored his 1000th point in the NRL. Paul Stephenson has been impressive out on his wing and Michael Monaghan and Shane Dunley have been giving good service from dummy half.
For the Dogs, Willie Mason has been great. Always looking dangerous with the ball in hand. Sonny Bill Williams needs to be on the field for most of the second half for the Dogs to have a chance of winning. Willie Tonga needs to see more ball in the second fourty minutes as he always looks like making something happen on that left hand side.
40 min: SECOND HALF IF UNDERWAY and from the kick off Anthony Watmough knocks on. Exactly the start the Dogs need.
40 min: NEWS From the scrum Sonny Bill Williams stands at pivot and looses the ball in the tackle.
46 min: NEWS Andrew Emelio attempts to step and looks to have suffered a knee injury. Willie Mason back into the game as the Eagles make another mistake in this second half.
48 min: NEWS Errors galore at the moment! The Dogs are in great a attacking position but Sonny Bill Williams is controversy ruled to have knocked on.
50 min: NEWS Great defence from the Eagles holds the Dogs of yet again. The Eagles have only completed one set so far this half.
53 min: PENALTY GOAL Manly Sea Eagles
Orford is taken out late after putting in a kick and recieves a penalty. Orford slots the penalty goal over from an easy position.
Sea Eagles 30-6
55 min: NEWS Orford puts in a great chip, regathers and passes to Brent Kite who throws a speculator to Travis Burns who looses the ball. Entertaining stuff from the Manly Sea Eagles.
58 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs
The Bulldogs relise they need to start throwing the ball around and they get rewarded for their efforts. Roy Asotasi makes a great break and is finished of by Willie Tonga who gets a great ball to Matt Utai to score.
Hazem misses the kick from the sideline.
Sea Eagles 30-10
63 min: NEWS VIDEO REF - Possible try to Sonny Bill Williams. Looking to see if he grounded the ball correctly. Video ref awards the try.
63 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs
Sonny Bill Williams some how gets the ball over the line with 4 Eagles players attempting to stop him. The Dogs are starting to get back into this match.
Hazem misses another goal.
Sea Eagles 30-14
67 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles
The Dogs gift the Eagles with another try when Daniel Holdsworth throws the ball up straight into the hands of the Manly captain Ben Kennedy who has a free run to the try line.
Orford converts from under the posts.
Sea Eagles 36-14
70 min: NEWS Fill in fullback Chris Hicks seems to have suffered an injury and has come off the field.
72 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles
Travis Burns throws a long pass to centre Steven Bell who continues his great run of scoring tries for his new club.
Orford misses the conversion to the left.
Sea Eagles 40-14
79 min: NEWS The Eagles fighting till the death with another try nearly going to winger Michael Robertson.
80 min: NEWS FULLTIME - Manly Sea Eagles 40 Canterbury Bulldogs 14
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Matt Orford
2 - Ben Kennedy
1 - Steve Menzies