It is officially the Bulldogs final home game this weekend in a season that never really looked like it was getting off the ground. They will be taking on a Manly outfit who would still be smarting over their last minute loss to the Wests Tigers last Sunday. They may well have a bit of frustration to get out of their system.
LAST TIME OUT
The Bulldogs turned in much of the same last week against the Rabbitohs as what they have for most of the season, and unsurprisingly, the result was also the same as it has been for most of the season, an uninspiring loss. This time however, they also lost Josh Reynolds and Sam Kasiano for a length of time which includes this match at the very least. For a Bulldogs fan, last week was painful as their team didn’t look to be in the game from the get go. In fact, the 14-2 score at halftime could have been worse and was indicative of how the Bulldogs team played. You get the feeling the next three weeks are going to feel like a very long time.
At halftime in the Manly/Wests game, you would have been shouted out of the pub if you had stated that the Tigers would come back to win it. A 20-6 halftime score doesn’t usually inspire a lot of confidence in the team that has only added the “6” in that equation. But the magic of Leichhardt was alive and well last Sunday and the Tigers found a way to get over the top of Manly in the dying stages. Not even the NRL’s Bunker could take it away from them. Now, that’s magic. However, if you’re a Manly fan, you probably have another word for what happened, but we won’t print it here. At least the first half was good, Manly fans. Trent Barrett’s men just need to put two good halves together. They are more than capable.
Bulldogs captain James Graham has been one of the few constants for the struggling club this season, but if recent rumblings are correct, he may be looking for another home if he is let off the leash by Canterbury. This won’t have any effect on the tough Englishman though, as he is a professional and he will be striving to lead his team to an unlikely victory. He doesn’t know any other way. And he may be the best chance they have.
In his way will be a fired-up Martin Taupau. Big Marty “Kapow” didn’t have a great game last week and will be looking to find his fire again. The Manly backs will only get an opportunity to show what they can do if Taupau and his fellow forwards can win the battle up front. When on song, Taupau is a devastating runner of the football and has inspired many times already this season with a damaging charge upfield. If Marty is going well, so are the Sea Eagles.
It’s very difficult to go past the Manly Sea Eagles here. They were embarrassed last week against the Tigers and will be more than eager to make amends for their capitulation. They will also want to make an example of the disappointing Bulldogs who are short on troops, confidence and apparently ideas. We can only see one traffic in this one. And if Manly are going to be seen as a force in September, they have to do a job here.
Sea Eagles by 18
Bulldogs v Sea Eagles, Sunday 20 August, 4.00pm at ANZ Stadium
Bulldogs: 1. William Hopoate 2. Brett Morris 3. Josh Morris 4. Brenko Lee 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Matt Frawley 7. Chase Stanley 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Moses Mbye 10. James Graham 11. Josh Jackson 12. Adam Elliot 13. David Klemmer 14. Francis Tualau 15. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 16. Danny Fualalo 17. Michael Lichaa 19. Andy Saunders 20. Rhyse Martin 21. Asipeli Fine 23. Kerrod Holland
Sea Eagles: 1. 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Matthew Wright 3. Dylan Walker 4. Brian Kelly 5. Akuila Uate 6. Blake Green 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Brenton Lawrence 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Martin Taupau 11. Frank Winterstein 12. Shaun Lane 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Lewis Brown 15. Lloyd Perrett 16. Darcy Lussick 17. Addin Fonua-blake 18. Jarrad Kennedy 19. Cameron Cullen 20. Jackson Hastings 21. Jonathan Wright