Manly edged out Canterbury 12-10 in a thrilling battle at ANZ Stadium back in Round 8.
It took Ben Barba just three minutes to make his mark, the fullback brushing aside some flimsy defence to race 60 metres down the right edge for a 4-nil Canterbury lead.
The camouflage jerseys the Sea Eagles wore to commemorate the Anzac weekend round seemed entirely fitting as the sides settled into a grinding war of attrition, with the only other points of the first half coming from a Jamie Lyon penalty goal on the stroke of halftime.
Just as Barba sparked the ’Dogs early in the first half, Manly fullback Brett Stewart returned fire for the visitors in the 43rd minute when he dummied his way through from 10 metres out, shrugging off a high, grabbing attempt at a tackle from Josh Reynolds to land Manly a 6-4 lead.
Another stand-off ensued before Steve Matai clinched the premiers some breathing space when he scored off a wonderful George Rose offload in the 75th minute for a 12-4 scoreline.
However, the Bulldogs refused to lie down, with Bryson Goodwin beating Jamie Lyon to a Kris Keating cross-field kick for a try that set up a dramatic last few minutes and not a few anxious moments for Manly coach Geoff Toovey and fans.
In the end, poor completions and a high error count hounded the Bulldogs’ performance – they managed just a 71 per cent success rate getting through their sets to Manly’s 84 per cent, and committed 13 errors to Manly’s eight.
Barba was a standout for the Bulldogs, while Manly prop George Rose made 15 hit-ups and 150 metres to go with his try assist in an involved 42 minutes on the field.