If anyone in the NRL thought that this year's 2011 Telstra Premiership was a one-horse race and the Dragons were considered certainties to win the competition, no-one told the Manly Sea Eagles. The Sea Eagles were ruthless in their 38-4 demolition of the Canterbury Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium tonight.
The first half started in light rain which continued unabated for the duration of the opening 40 minutes. Many fans were expecting the Bulldogs and Sea Eagles to fight out a classic encounter, but the signs weren't good for the home side in the opening exchanges. Manly continued to win the field position and regularly completed their sets, playing an almost perfect wet-weather style. It would take just eight minutes of play for the Eagles to get the scoring underway and the first try-scorer was big front rower George Rose. Halfback Daly Cherry-Evans skipped on the outside of the advancing Bulldogs defence, before delivering a short-pass onto the rampaging forward who charged over the top of Bulldogs fullback Ben Barba. Jamie Lyon extended the Eagles lead in the 15th minute after they successfully ran the ball on the fifth tackle. Glenn and Brett Stewart played a pivotal role in getting Lyon into space and over the tryline, despite the attention of three Canterbury defenders. Cherry-Evans extended the Eagles lead past two converted tries when he scored the softest try of the first half. After picking the ball up at the base of the scrum, the halfback found no Canterbury defenders in front of him other than fullback Ben Barba. His left foot step left the Bulldogs' custodian grasping at thin air as he crossed under the black dot. The final try of the first half was scored by David Williams in the 34th minute and was again courtesy of a Bulldogs error. Canterbury second-rower Corey Payne looked to work the ball away from his own goal-line, but as he arrived at the defence, he attempted an unlikely short pass which was knocked on by Dene Halatau. Again Cherry-Evans was on the spot and the Eagles launched a counter-attack which saw centre Jamie Lyon draw two Bulldogs defenders to send Williams away down the western touchline to score in the corner. Lyon added the extras from touch to set up a commanding 22-0 halftime lead.
The Bulldogs faithful were hopeful of a second-half revival, but any slight thoughts were well and truly put out of the equation just five minutes into the half. The Eagles ran a second-man play which incorporated Brett Stewart who drew the Bulldogs defence, before sending Will Hopoate on a tip-toe effort down the sideline. Despite Bulldogs' halfback Josh Reynolds' best efforts, the video referee flashed the green light to sniff out any hope of a Bulldogs comeback. In the 55th minute, Cherry-Evans ran the play down the blind-side before sending a perfectly executed banana-kick towards the posts. Chasing through, centre Jamie Lyon won the race to the ball, scoring under the uprights. In the 64th minute, again it was Manly's halfback pulling the strings, this time Cherry-Evans weighting a perfect grubber behind the advancing Bulldogs defence. Second-rower Anthony Watmough won the race to the ball to put the Eagles up by 38-points. At that stage, it was the equal-highest winning margin ever between the two sides. Fortunately for the Canterbury side, halfback Ben Barba prevented them from being on the end of an unwanted record when he took advantage of a rare Brett Stewart knock-on. The livewire fullback raced 70m to score and get the Bulldogs on the board for their home fans. The remaining 10 minutes of the game was marred by constant dropped ball from both sides as the slippery conditions took their toll.
Next week, the Eagles host the Cowboys at Brookvale Oval next Saturday night, while the Bulldogs have a chance to lick their wounds with a round-14 bye.
Canterbury Bulldogs 4 were defeated by Manly Sea Eagles 38
National Rugby League - Round 13 - Saturday June 4, 2011 7:30pm
Venue: ANZ Stadium
Referee: Shayne Hayne and Adam Devcich
Video Referee: Rod Lawrence
Touch Judges: Russell Turner and Steve Chiddy
Halftime: Canterbury Bulldogs 0 Manly Sea Eagles 22
CANTERBURY BULLDOGS (4)
Tries: Ben Barba
Conversions: Steve Turner (0/1)
MANLY SEA EAGLES (38)
Tries: Anthony Watmough, George Rose, Jamie Lyon (2), David Williams, William Hopoate, Daly Cherry-Evans
Conversions: Jamie Lyon (5/7)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary And a very good evening and welcome to ANZ Stadium in Sydney for tonight's round 13 blockbuster between the Canterbury Bulldogs and Manly Sea Eagles. This match promises to be a beauty as Manly will look to consolidate their place in the top four, while the Bulldogs will look to keep in touch with the top eight, but have been dealt a blow with halfback Trent Hodkinson being suspended during the week, robbing him of the chance to play against his former club. Kick off is scheduled for around 7.35pm.
In team news, just the one change for both sides. For Canterbury, Greg Eastwood has been ruled out and his place on the interchange bench will be taken by Michael Hodgson. For the Manly side, towering centre/second rower Tony Williams will start in the second row, with Joe Galuvao dropping back to Des Hasler's bench.
In the Toyota Cup curtain-raiser, the Canterbury side have kept the pressure on competition-leaders the Warriors after running out emphatic 50-6 victors over the Sea Eagles.
1 min: Manly will kick off and defend the northern end of ANZ Stadium.
1 min: And we're underway!
2 min: Solid defence from the Bulldogs after a good first set in possession.
2 min: Turner comfortably takes Foran's spiralling bomb despite pressure from Matai.
3 min: The Bulldogs look to go wide, but Keating puts the pass down. Eagles on the attack.
3 min: Fortunately for the Bulldogs, Watmough also puts the ball on the deck. The rain is falling here at ANZ Stadium, making the ball a little slippery for both sides.
5 min: Idris and Stewart collide as they both attempted to get under Foran's bomb. Bulldogs working the ball off their own line.
7 min: Foran's cross-field kick is well-taken by Bryson Goodwin in his in-goal. 20m restart Bulldogs.
7 min: The Bulldogs look to get some second-phase play going with Kasiano's pass out the back, but unfortunately for the home side, Ennis knocks on. Scrum Eagles.
8 min: TRY
TRY Manly Sea Eagles
Scored by George Rose. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful.
Manly get us underway here tonight! Cherry-Evans engaged the Bulldogs defence, getting on the outside of his man, before delivering a short pass onto a rampaging front rower who pushes Barba out of the way and scores the try. Lyon makes no mistake with the conversion.
Manly Sea Eagles 6-0
11 min: Cherry-Evans' kick is played off the legs by Bulldogs fullback Barba who charges fearlessly into the Manly defence.
13 min: Foster pleads with the referee to rule in his favour by awarding a penalty, but his protests fall on deaf ears and the Eagles will feed a scrum on halfway.
15 min: TRY
TRY Manly Sea Eagles
Scored by Jamie Lyon. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon unsuccessful.
The Eagles extend their lead! Running the ball on the fifth tackle, the Eagles work the ball to their right hand side, with Glenn and Brett Stewart combining, before the fullback delivered the pass to his centre who crosses out wide despite the attention of three Bulldogs defenders. Lyon's conversion attempt from near the sideline swings away to the left.
Manly Sea Eagles 10-0
18 min: Cherry-Evans' kick finds space and the Bulldogs will again try to work the ball upfield.
21 min: PENALTY Eagles. First penalty of the night goes the Manly way after the Bulldogs have three markers.
22 min: Glenn Stewart grubbers into the in-goal, trying to find Williams, but Goodwin is back there for the Bulldogs to bat the ball over the deadball line. Goal-line dropout.
23 min: The Eagles run the ball to their left side this time, and Matai hangs onto the ball for a fraction too long and his pass is knocked into touch by Turner. Eagles scrum.
24 min: TRY
TRY Manly Sea Eagles
Scored by Daly Cherry-Evans . Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful.
Cherry-Evans continues the Manly procession! A very soft try for the Eagles sees the halfback pick up the ball from the base of the scrum, before putting a big left foot step which leaves Barba grasping at thin air. Lyon adds the extras from in front.
Manly Sea Eagles 16-0
26 min: Manly drop the ball through Tim Robinson on just the second tackle. This will give the Bulldogs their first chance with the ball in the Manly part of the field.
27 min: Keating's kick towards the posts looking for Barba is brilliantly taken by Lyon.
28 min: Matai gets on the outside of Idris and his pass intended for his winger is ruled to have been played at by Idris, although replays would suggest it may have been a tough call.
29 min: Cherry-Evans grubber into the in-goal is knocked on by both sides, with the Barba committing the first knock-on. Goal-line dropout Bulldogs.
31 min: Foran's kick intended for Hopoate is taken well by Turner.
31 min: As the Bulldogs look to work the ball downfield, Ennis's pass is ruled to have been forward. Eagles scrum.
33 min: Foran runs the ball cross-field, but is hit in a solid tackle by Idris which jolts the ball loose.
34 min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Eagles try.
34 min: TRY
TRY Manly Sea Eagles
Scored by David Williams. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful.
David Williams makes the Bulldogs task in the second half very tough as he crosses out wide! Payne took the ball to the line, before trying to deliver a pass to Halatau, which was put down. On the counter-attack, Cherry-Evans found Jamie Lyon who basketballed a pass over to Williams who scored in the corner despite Barba's best efforts. Lyon converts from the sideline.
Manly Sea Eagles 22-0
36 min: Cherry-Evans kicks to the corner and tries to keep the Bulldogs in their corner.
36 min: PENALTY Bulldogs. Cherry-Evans and Lyon not square at marker, allowing the Bulldogs out of trouble.
37 min: Halatau tries to play-the-ball too quickly and drops it.
38 min: And in the shadows of halftime, Watmough knocks the ball on.
38 min: Just for something different, the Bulldogs kick downfield from the scrum, but Brett Stewart had a 30m headstart on the home side and picks up the ball 10m out from his own line.
39 min: Cherry-Evans kicks to the corner and the ball rolls into touch as both sides casually walk to the scrum.
40 min: Idris finds himself in space down the eastern touchline, with his chipkick over Hopoate gathered up by Foran who runs the ball into touch. Bulldogs scrum.
40 min: Keating chips to the corner looking for Goodwin, but Williams wins the race to the ball and that will do for the first half tonight with the Eagles comfortably leading 22-0.
40 min: Second half is underway and Steve Turner sends the ball towards the southern end of ANZ Stadium. Manly will get first use of the ball.
41 min: Cherry-Evans kick dribbles over the deadball line. 20m restart Bulldogs.
43 min: Barba gets a one-on-one strip off Glenn Stewart and the Bulldogs now go on the attack.
44 min: Hopoate takes Barba's bomb very well.
44 min: PENALTY Eagles. Bulldogs offside.
45 min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Eagles try.
45 min: TRY
TRY Manly Sea Eagles
Scored by William Hopoate. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon unsuccessful.
Hopoate gets the green light which almost certainly puts the Bulldogs out of the game tonight. Running a play they do so well, Manly get Stewart on the outside of his man, with the fullback's pass sending the winger on his way to the tryline, just getting the ball down a centimetre or two in from touch.
Manly Sea Eagles 26-0
49 min: Williams grubber into the in-goal rolls over the deadball line. 20m restart Bulldogs.
50 min: PENALTY Bulldogs. Watmough hanging around too long in the ruck.
51 min: Reynolds' grubber is brilliantly picked up by Foran and he's away downfield!
52 min: Foran forces yet another dropout from the Bulldogs.
53 min: Stewart tries his luck at grubbering into the in-goal, but the ball rolls touch in-goal.
54 min: Barba tries to spark something for the Bulldogs, but knocks the ball on.
55 min: TRY
TRY Manly Sea Eagles
Scored by Jamie Lyon. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful.
The maroon-and-white tidal wave continues to surge here at ANZ! On tackle five, Foran banana-kicks towards the posts and trailing through is Lyon who scores the try under the posts.
Manly Sea Eagles 32-0
57 min: Williams does acrobatically well by batting the ball back in-field as it appeared to be destined to go into touch.
57 min: PENALTY Eagles. Bulldogs offside.
58 min: Foran is hit in a bone-rattler from Kasiano! But the five-eighth bounces straight back to his feet.
63 min: PENALTY Bulldogs. Stewart ruled to have flopped onto Stagg.
64 min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Eagles try.
64 min: TRY
TRY Manly Sea Eagles
Scored by Anthony Watmough. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful.
Watmough adds his name to the score sheet after chasing through Cherry-Evans grubber into the in-goal. Lyon again adds the extras.
Manly Sea Eagles 38-0
67 min: Some enterprising play from the Bulldogs sees them knock the ball on just 5m out from the Manly line through Goodwin. Pritchard passed back inside to Turner who was into the backplay, but his choice of support players wasn't the right one and the Manly tryline stays intact.
69 min: PENALTY Eagles. Bulldogs offside at the scrum.
70 min: TRY
TRY Canterbury Bulldogs
Scored by Ben Barba. Conversion attempt by Steve Turner unsuccessful.
Barba finally gets the Bulldogs on the scoreboard! As the Eagles ran their second-man play, Stewart couldn't hang onto the slippery ball and dropped it into the arms of Barba who raced 70m to score. And from just beside the posts, Turner can't add the extras.
Manly Sea Eagles 38-4
72 min: The Bulldogs again knock the ball on, with their completion rate not good enough under the circumstances.
72 min: Stewart's flick-pass is toed over the deadball line by Matai.
74 min: Cherry-Evans kick looking for Foran is picked up by Reynolds.
77 min: Cherry-Evans kick is again pinpoint and Watmough leads the chase, with the help of Brett Stewart, pins Halatau in the in-goal.
78 min: Lyon tries to kick for Williams, but the ball has too much weight and goes touch in-goal.
78 min: And from the restart, the Bulldogs again knock the ball on and give the Eagles a chance of posting one more try.
79 min: Manly drop the ball and Reynolds takes the ball to the halfway line.
80 min: And one more knock-on by the Bulldogs through Ennis will wrap this game up tonight.
80 min: Fulltime at ANZ Stadium and the Manly Sea Eagles have run out comprehensive 38-4 victors.