In a game that would surprise many, the Canterbury Bulldogs showed that there is still a bit of life in them after all. Unfortunately, this spike in heart rate came at a cost for the Manly Sea Eagles, and their chances in the finals. If they get there.
Where Has This Been?
Many Bulldogs supporters would have had a bittersweet experience watching this game. One the one hand, they would have felt great about watching their team play fast, energetic and attacking rugby league that not only resulted in points but resulted in a strong win. On the other, they would have been frustrated in knowing that it has been a long time since they had seen their team play this way.
The style of play that we have been used to watching from the Bulldogs, involving the forwards being used as ball players via a shallow structure, only raised its head on a few occasions here. For most of the game, when the halves wanted the ball, they got it. When the backline wanted the ball, they got it via a half and were running onto the pass at speed. When starting hooker Michael Lichaa saw a chance to run, he did.
Canterbury took Manly, and many more of us, by surprise by playing this way. It was very different to what we have seen from them this season. But it begs the question, where has this been? Considering the Bulldogs have struggled this season, mainly because of their gameplan, why weren’t these changes brought on much earlier?
What Happened to Manly?
The Bulldogs tricked us, but then again, so did the Sea Eagles. After allowing the Wests Tigers to come back from the dead last week, the feel was that Trent Barrett’s men would come out with a point to prove. Especially after the quietly spoken Barrett apparently let fly in a post-match spray that would rank with some of the best. Alas, this was not the case.
From the opening whistle, the Manly team looked lethargic and slow. It was almost as if they expected the game to look after itself without having to do the work. Even after an early try was scored against them, the Sea Eagles didn’t really kick up a gear. The fact they replied just five minutes later may have led them to a false truth in that even after they took the lead, nothing really changed in terms of tempo or effort.
Whatever was said at halftime didn’t make any impact either. It was a very un-Manly like performance, and many questions will be getting asked this week.
Are the Eagles an Endangered Species?
It hasn’t been a good few weeks for Manly, and this has seen them slip all the way down to eighth place on the premiership ladder. This has opened up an opportunity for the Dragons to slip up into the eight. But, with all things considered, the Sea Eagles should stay finals bound.
The fact of the matter is that the Dragons and the Cowboys will be fighting for that final spot, and the biggest reason isn’t their form, it is their health. The Cowboys have been limping through for weeks and they have two tough games coming up. The Dragons have found themselves in injury trouble as well. They also have a couple of interesting games coming up.
Therefore, the Sea Eagles will be there come September. Whether they do anything once they get there, well, it doesn’t look promising.
Is the NRL Serious About Concussions?
Just a small observation here. Early in this game, Bulldogs winger Marcelo Montoya was hit high in a tackle and was on the ground suffering from its effects. Just over a minute later, Montoya was diving over the tryline to give the Bulldogs the lead once again. But then, he was taken from the field to undergo the NRL’s Head Injury Assessment or HIA.
Whether he suffered an additional knock to the head whilst scoring the try is anyone’s guess, but if Montoya required the use of the HIA, why wasn’t that opportunity taken after he was initially hit in the first place?
If the NRL is serious about concussions, it needs to be better than this example shows. If the impact of the high tackle stopped Montoya from getting up on his own two feet, he should have gone in for the HIA there and then. With one case presently in court, and many others watching the outcome, the NRL needs to take this issue seriously.
Tries: Montoya (4m, 16m), B Morris (39m, 70m), Lee (47m), J Morris (62m)
Goals: Mbye 3/6
Sea Eagles: 16
Tries: J Trbojevic (9m), Kelly (24m), Brown (79m)
Goals: Wright 1/2, Daly-Evans 1/1