2014: ROUND 17

vs Manly

Match Details
Match Date 4th Jul, 2014
Opponent Manly
Result Win
Coach Des Hasler
Captain Michael Ennis
Venue Homebush (ANZ Stadium)
Crowd 14,921
Referee Jared Maxwell
David Munro

With the Hillsong conference on next door at Allphones Arena, there was no shortage of belief around Homebush on Friday night.

Canterbury have plenty of it themselves after an against-the-odds win over NRL pacesetters Manly in which Tony Williams had a starring role in the most unlikely of positions.

Missing his State of Origin halves pair, Des Hasler produced a wild card by shifting the giant Williams to halfback, and the experiment worked in front of a crowd of 14,921 at ANZ Stadium.

Bulldogs captain Michael Ennis and English prop James Graham were also outstanding for the Bulldogs, Ennis sealing the result with a late field goal then an opportunistic try at the death.

It was a first loss in four games for a disappointing Manly, who could have gone four points clear at the top of the premiership, but are now ahead of a rejuvenated Canterbury on points difference.

With the numbers on their backs all but irrelevant, the Bulldogs opted for size over subtly, with the often maligned Williams pulling the strings.

Given the keys to the Bulldogs’ back line by Hasler, Williams put the foot down and ran the ball regularly, but he also showed some of the skills that made him a junior playmaker before the scales sent him inevitably into the forwards.

A floating cut-out ball to winger Drury Low showed an early sign of innovation and there was a payoff close to half-time when he threw the final pass in a try to Krisnan Inu that saw Canterbury take a 12-6 lead at the break.

The Bulldogs had gained an unlikely ascendancy through sheer grunt. They lost prop Aiden Tolman after only seven minutes when he reinjured a hamstring in his first game back from injury, but following the lead of tireless front-row pair James Graham and Tim Browne, the Bulldogs aimed up in defence and had Geoff Toovey’s men on the back foot.

Taking a straightforward approach in the absence of State of Origin duo Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson, the drama for Canterbury was always going to be applying finesse to the brute force. They had looked rudderless with Ennis filling in at halfback against Parramatta last month and there were the expected shortcomings in their last-tackle options again on Friday night.

Ennis, however, managed to produce a result from a snarling grubber kick in the 53rd minute after Manly second gamer Clinton Gutherson hit back for the Sea Eagles soon after the break.

Brett Stewart, who had laid on the young winger’s try with a lovely cut-out pass, was caught under the spell of the awkwardly rolling ball and zippy Bulldogs winger Corey Thompson pounced.

Stewart’s opposing fullback, Mitch Brown, would have his own issues at the back, though, spilling a Jack Littlejohn kick that allowed Justin Horo to square the score line with 20 minutes left.

The Bulldogs would not be denied, though, with Ennis nosing them in front, then capitalising on a Williams kick to score under the posts despite a clearly forward pass by Browne.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

Player Position Tries Goals F Goals Points
Mitch Brown Fullback 0 0 0 0
Corey Thompson Wing 1 0 0 4
Drury Low Wing 0 0 0 0
Krisnan Inu Centre 1 3 0 10
Tim Lafai Centre 0 0 0 0
Josh Jackson Five Eighth 0 0 0 0
Tony Williams Half Back 0 0 0 0
Sam Kasiano Lock 0 0 0 0
Reni Maitua Second Row 0 0 0 0
Greg Eastwood Second Row 0 0 0 0
James Graham Front Row 1 0 0 4
Aiden Tolman Front Row 0 0 0 0
Michael Ennis Hooker 1 0 1 5
Dale Finucane Replacement 0 0 0 0
Damien Cook Replacement 0 0 0 0
Tim Browne Replacement 0 0 0 0
Lloyd Perrett Replacement 0 0 0 0
Total: 4 3 1 23