|Match Date||6th Jul, 2002|
|Venue||Sydney Showground Homebush|
The Bulldogs have recorded their 13th consecutive victory to make them only the 4th team in Australian premiership history to achieve such a mammoth feat.
Down 10-0 the Bulldogs showed excellent poise to return with 30 un-answered points and power home to a relatively comfortable victory despite dropping their standard from previous weeks.
The Eagles performed very well throughout the match but the Bulldogs were able to dominate at the key moments of the match, and despite making plenty of mistakes the Bulldogs defended brilliantly on their own line all night despite the fact that Manly did score 22 points. Eagles coach Peter Sharp made comment that their first half performance was their best this season, but they did run into the Bulldogs juggernaut that they simply couldn't stop.
Manly opened the scoring controversially when the Bulldogs had the ball stripped in a two man tackle that was let go by referee Tony Archer. Several tackles later the Bulldogs were penalised for offside with 5/8 Luke Williamson piloting over a penalty goal for the 2-0 lead.
It was extended to 4-0 shortly after following a dangerous tackle by Bulldogs lock Travis Norton. Norton one on one with an Eagles attacker lifted the player above the horizontal, but apart from that there was nothing dangerous about it. The Bulldogs looked to have hit back with a try to giant forward Willie Mason shortly after but Tony Archer ruled a forward pass in the lead up - replays showed it was a tough call.
After withholding 10-15 minutes of constant pressure on their own line the Bulldogs were able to show their true class and not look like breaking open. The Eagles massively dominated possession in the opening 20 minutes and finally they did break through to score in the 25th minute but it came with the Bulldogs in possession. A backline that saw the ball turned over for Steve Menzies who scooped on the ball and ran 40 metres to score. The turnover was the result of a poor pass by Braith Anasta into the head of 2nd rower Glen Hughes with Menzies eclipsing the try scoring record at the Manly club in the process.
Down 10-0 a shock upset was on the cards, but in a blitz just before halftime the Bulldogs stamped their class on the match. A controversial decision went in the Bulldogs favour in the lead up to their first try. Adam Perry running the ball wide lost the ball as he fell in a tackle - it went unnoticed and a tackle later Nigel Vagana was leaping high to take a bomb and magically got the ball down just an inch from the dead ball line as he fell.
Shortly after the Bulldogs scored again to take a surprising 12-10 lead into the halftime break. Paul Rauhihi powered over following a great pass by lock Travis Norton.
After halftime the Eagles had consecutive sets in attack on the Bulldogs line but once again failed to break through the relentless on line defence. A smashing tackle by Nigel Vagana on Steve Menzies saw the ball deflect 30m upfield and was fallen upon by Hazem El Masri. Glen Hughes made an incisive 40m run in broken field play before Willie Mason powered through to score under the posts several tackles later. It was the key moment of the match...
Four minutes later the Bulldogs were over again and the match was beyond the Eagles reach. Lock Travis Norton stepped through some poor eagles defence then threw a NFL style pass across field to Matt Utai who had open field in front of him and he scored untouched.
When Braith Anasta scored shortly afterwards a large score looked on the cards, Braith Anasta did it all himself powering through poor tackle attempts by Danny Lima and Luke Dorn. Anasta ran 30 metres untouched to score after breaking through the line.
With the Bulldogs up 30-10 and with 15 minutes to go Eagles debutant Mitch Creary scored in the corner as the Bulldogs up and in defence was caught short on the outside. But it was only a prelude to two more Bulldogs tries. Corey Hughes took full advantage of a brilliant short pass from Brent Sherwin to score, then was followed up by a brilliant try in the corner to Travis Norton. Sherwin chipped behind the wing defence of the Eagles with El Masri chasing through - regathering and passing to his support in Norton. It was masterfully put together. Brent Sherwin in a man of the match display, stepped up and converted from the sideline with his first goal attempt of the season.
Creary snatched his second after the siren had sounded in some consolation for the gallant Eagles - but they were simply out-gunned.
The Bulldogs will be happy with the result and many aspects of the game, but they seemed to be lethargic at times throughout the match and went a bit away from the game plan. To the Eagles credit much of this was caused by them, but in the end when the key moments of the match came the Bulldogs class was too good.
|Hazem El Masri||Wing||0||6||0||12|
|Braith Anasta||Five Eighth||1||0||0||4|
|Brent Sherwin||Half Back||0||1||0||2|
|Jamie Feeney||Second Row||0||0||0||0|
|Glen Hughes||Second Row||0||0||0||0|
|Willie Mason||Front Row||1||0||0||4|
|Steve Price||Front Row||0||0||0||0|