League: Manly machine cranks into gear

NRL
Sea Eagles 30
Bulldogs 22

Manly don't really do flashy but they know how to win and last night they collected their fourth victory in five games.

It served to remind everyone that, although they opened the season with two defeats, they are more than capable of replicating last season's run to the grand final by grinding out results.

They have power throughout their pack, penetration from the likes of Jamie Lyon and Brett Stewart and in Matt Orford a halfback who controls proceedings better than a policeman on point duty. They also have Brookvale Oval, which has seen many a team depart full of disappointment.

Like last weekend's epic against the Eels, Manly had to come from behind last night but they were helped on their way by a Doggies outfit who often had little respect for the football.

Trailing 10-0 early, Manly piled on 30 unanswered points before the Bulldogs troubled the scorer again and they should finish the weekend in the top eight for the first time this season.

It had started so well for the Bulldogs, scoring two tries inside the first 15 minutes, including one to a bullocking Sonny Bill Williams.

But they soon went from bulldogs full of bite to poodles not even good to look at and invited Manly back into the match with some diabolical handling in sight of their own line.

On three occasions they handed over possession on the first tackle and, although Manly were denied by video referee Steve Clark (who somehow found something wrong with an Orford effort), it was only a matter of time before the home side scored.

They managed it twice inside five minutes as Lyon attacked the visitors' left-hand defence and sent both Glenn Stewart and Steve Bell over.

At 10-10 at halftime, it was anyone's game.

Less than 20 minutes later it was effectively over as a contest.

Brett Stewart got the ball rolling for Manly in the 47th minute and was followed over the line by Glenn Hall and Josh Perry.

Tim Winitana and debutant Brent Crisp ensured some respectability for the visitors when they both crossed inside the final nine minutes - Crisp when he expertly rose Aussie Rules-style to grab a bomb - but they were only consolations.

The worry for the Bulldogs is that, while they have shown that they can beat lesser sides - they've defeated Souths, the Wests Tigers and Dragons - they have struggled against the genuine contenders.

Williams is in terrific form and is a certainty for the Kiwis squad to be announced this week but he can only do so much.

As Manly showed, a good team can do so much more.

Sea Eagles 30 (G. Stewart, S. Bell, B. Stewart, G. Hall, J. Perry, tries; M. Orford 5 gls) Bulldogs 22 (H. Nanai, SB. Williams, T. Winitana, B. Crisp, tries; Crisp 3 gls). Halftime: 10-10.

- Herald on Sunday

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n6 at 21 Apr 2014 05:56:33 Processing Time: 1180ms