Canterbury Bulldogs, without a win in 2020, took on the Manly Sea Eagles in the final game of the restart weekend in the NRL. The venue was the Central Coast Stadium in Gosford, the site of yesterday’s game between the Warriors and the Dragons.
It was a breathless night in the Stadium with both sides relieved that darkness offered some relief from the heat.
With both sides needing a win it should have been a competitive game but one side got on a roll and dominated proceedings.
Manly drew first blood after just three minutes after a flowing fifty metres move with Moses Suli breaking down the right wing and flinging the ball inside for an unmarked Tom Trbojevic to take the pass and walk in from five metres. Reuben Garrick hit the upright with his conversion attempt, shaking his head as he returned to his own half for the restart.
Despite the Bulldogs conceding early they knuckled down and the game stalemated. Both sides made some errors, those of rusty teams, with the ball in hand and neither side could make the play to cross the whitewash.
On twenty-five the Canterbury defence was breached again as the brothers combined with Jake Trbojevic hitting his brother with switch pass, Tom getting his second of the night. Once again Garrick was unable to add the extras, the Eagles 8-0 to the good.
Brad Parker scored the third Sea Eagles try of the half when he took a Tom Trbojevic pass to coast through a gap and score from ten metres. Garrick kicked a more difficult conversion attempt for his first of the match and with thirty-six minutes on the clock the clubs stayed locked together and it was 14-0 at the interval.
Four minutes into the second half and a fast movement to the left played out another chapter in the Tom Trbojevic show as Jorge Taufua was on hand to take his long pass and score in the corner. Garrick missed his third of the night from wide but is was looking like it was all over for the Doggies.
Just after the hour mark Curtis Sironen took the ball at first receiver and powered over the top of two tacklers from three metres to ground over the whitewash. Garrick missed the conversion, just one from five on the night.
Two minutes later a Tom Trbojevoc break over thirty metres allowed him to find Parker in support to cross down the left hand side for his second of the night, Canterbury had nothing left in the tank against a totally dominant Manly. Garrick finally got his second of the night for 28-0.
A seventieth minute Jake Averillo spoiled the Manly clean sheet as he picked up a bouncing ball and weaved his way twenty metres to the line. Mick Meaney added the extras for 6-28.
But it was brief respite as Garrick went from acting half-back to get the ball on the ground. The Manly winger was again unable to add the extras. The score was 32-6 but if Garrick had been wearing his kicking boots it would have been over forty.
It was a bad day at the office for the Bulldogs who were totally outplayed by the Sea Eagles. Whether this was just a slow start to the recommencement of the season, or something more deeply seated, will only become apparent over the coming rounds. The Sea Eagles will soar on to bigger things if they can maintain this form.
Manly Sea Eagles: Trbojevic T (2T), Taufua (T), Parker (2T), Suli, Garrick (T, 2G), Walker, Cherry-Evans, Fonua-Blake, Levi, Taupau, Thompson, Sironen (T), Trbojevic J. Subs: Croker, Waddell, Keppie, Paseka.
Canterbury Bulldogs: Watene-Zelezniak, Meaney (G), Smith, Hopoate, Crichton, Lewis, Cogger, Marshall-King, Napa, Jackson, Britt, Elliott, Tolman. Subs: Sue, Averillo (T), Toomaga, Faitala-Mariner.
Referee: Matt Cecchin.
Ground: Central Coast Stadium, Gosford.