The world of Rugby League.

Bulldogs advance in finals opener

The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have secured a home Preliminary Final after holding off a spirited Manly side 16-10 in front of 36,420 fans at ANZ Stadium in the opening game of the 2012 playoffs.
Bulldogs advance in finals opener
by NRL

The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have secured a home Preliminary Final after holding off a spirited Manly side 16-10 in front of 36,420 fans at ANZ Stadium in the opening game of the 2012 playoffs.

Manly had taken a 10-6 lead into the break thanks largely to winger Jorge Taufua's outstanding first 40 minutes, but then Ben Barba and Kris Keating scored after halftime to get the Bulldogs home by six points in a great game of football.

Manly forced the first mistake of the game when Ben Barba lost the ball just two metres out from his own try-line in the 2nd minute. The Sea Eagles moved it crisply to the right edge but Josh Morris forced the error from Dean Whare with the line beckoning and Canterbury-Bankstown dodged a bullet.

But a Greg Eastwood error on the next set gave Manly another golden opportunity to attack, but the Bulldogs' defence held firm and the game remained scoreless after six minutes.

It wasn't scoreless for long however with Frank Pritchard giving Morris all the room he needed to burn Jamie Lyon on the outside, then position his winger Jonathan Wright back on the inside for first points in the 8th minute. Krisnan Inu made no mistake with the conversion and the Bulldogs had a 6-0 lead.

Canterbury-Bankstown's error count kept climbing in the 14th minute, when Sam Perrett dropped a Daly Cherry-Evans bomb near his line. But again, the Bulldogs' defence came up with the stop when they needed it.

Anthony Watmough then gave away a penalty for impeding Josh Reynolds from pursuing the kicker, and Canterbury-Bankstown had their first real field position of the game. Manly dug themselves a deeper hole when co-captain Jason King was placed on report for a high shot on Aiden Tolman in the 19th minute and again when Steve Matai floated high on Perrett the next set.

The Bulldogs thought they had their second try moments later, but Michael Ennis was ruled to have used a double movement to advance the ball in the 21st minute.

Then Jorge Taufua ran onto a Cherry-Evans pass to streak 85 metres before Barba dragged him down. Manly failed to score off the following plays but they had a problem, with co-captain Jamie Lyon forced from the field with a leg complaint.

Ennis followed Lyon off the field within five minutes with a rib injury and Manly finally capitalised on good field position with Taufua crossing for a try in the left corner. Good lead-up work from Kieran Foran, Brett Stewart and Matai created the opportunity, and although Cherry-Evans missed from touch, Manly were back within two points, down 6-4 after 28 minutes.

Manly fans had another reason to celebrate from the subsequent kickoff with Tony Williams running right through Reynolds and Inu to setup Brett Stewart for the Sea Eagles' second try in as many minutes. Cherry-Evans converted from in front and Manly had a 10-6 lead after 31 minutes.

The Sea Eagles would take that 10-6 lead to the break, but not after Taufua went on another weaving run through the defence right on halftime to cap a storming half from the rookie winger.

Who was your Man of the Match? Tell us who and why in the comments below..

A Whare error opened the half and Canterbury-Bankstown failed to make them pay, with James Graham knocking on just 10 metres out from Manly's line to relieve the pressure.

Then it was Kris Keating's turn to make a name for himself. Another Manly error inside their own territory have the Bulldogs possession and Keating grubbered for himself and beat Williams to the ball to score under the posts in the 47th minute. Inu put the Bulldogs ahead 12-10 with the conversion.

Then Ben Barba announced himself to the 36,420 crowd.

Perrett gathered a kick inside his own 20 metre zone, passed to Barba who found Wright who put Morris into space and the centre drew Brett Stewart and offloaded back to the ever present Barba for an 80 metre Bulldogs special. Inu missed from touch but Canterbury-Bankstown's advantage was now 16-10 after 57 minutes.

The video referee was called into action in the 62nd minute when Barba went over again but Pritchard was ruled to have interfered with Cherry-Evans and the try was nullified.

Barba tried to put the Bulldogs ahead in the 68th minute but he missed his field goal attempt from right in front, and Manly stayed within striking distance.

Brett Stewart put Matai into space in the 71st minute and he found Taufua but the winger lost the ball in the tackle just 10 metres out from Canterbury-Bankstown's line. The Manly fullback came up with another big play moments later, defusing a Barba kick in his own in-goal.

Matai then had a chance to get Manly level but he was stopped just inches short of the line when the Sea Eagles worked a short side play in the 76th minute.

Cherry-Evans then put his clearing kick out on the full searching for a 40/20 with three minutes remaining. Barba seemingly had a chance to seal the game on the right edge in the 79th minute, but he chose to kick instead of run near the line and Matai bailed his team out.

Manly had one last throw of the dice but Glenn Stewart's pass went to Wright instead of a Manly team-mate and the game was Canterbury-Bankstown's.

The Bulldogs now move into Week 3 of the Finals and will play a home Preliminary Final, while Manly now face the winner of the North Queensland-Brisbane Elimination Final to be played tonight.

Your thoughts?

You need to login or register to contribute here

Follow on Facebook

Related Profiles

View profile pages including statistics, results, news, photos and more on all of the following...

Popular News Stories