The Sea Eagles beat the Bulldogs 27-16 at Brookvale Oval in Round 24 last year – but they had to do it the hard way, overcoming a 10-7 halftime deficit.
David Williams opened the scoring in the 14th minute off a neat flick pass from Jamie Lyon before Josh Morris hit back midway through the half, pouncing on a Joel Romelo grubber from close range. Leading 6-4, Daly Cherry-Evans looked to close out the scoring with a field-goal in the 39th minute – but with the clock winding down to the halftime siren Johnathan Wright intercepted a long Glenn Stewart pass and raced 50 metres to score.
It was a more-focused Sea Eagles side in the second stanza. Back-to-back tries to Glenn Stewart (cleaning up a Cherry-Evans cross-field bomb) and Jamie Lyon (off a Cherry-Evans offload) saw them lead 19-10 after 54 minutes – but the Bulldogs hit back immediately through a scrappy try to Ben Barba regathering his own grubber kick that bounced off a host of players before falling sweetly into his hands.
However, the Bulldogs’ challenge ended in the 65th minute when they allowed dummy-half runner Steve Matai to scoot 45 metres to score.
Opposing centres Steve Matai and Jamal Idris were the sounding boards for their teams, each man creating havoc with 10 tackle busts.