Canterbury dented Manly’s 2013 premiership hopes with a thrilling 16-10 victory at ANZ Stadium in Week One of last year’s finals series.
It was the third meeting between the clubs last season, Manly winning 12-10 at ANZ Stadium in Round 8 and the Bulldogs winning 20-12 at Brookvale Oval in Round 20.
Canterbury drew first blood following a Josh Morris burst down the left flank in the 8th minute, the NSW Origin centre firing a pass back infield for Jonathan Wright who scored under the posts.
Manly were dealt a blow when centre and co-captain Jamie Lyon left the field with a calf injury midway through the first half but their fans were up out of their seats when Jorge Taufua crossed for Manly’s first try for a 6-4 scoreline in the 27th minute.
The fans hardly had time to collect their thoughts when Tony Williams steamrolled over the top of the Bulldogs’ defence down the left edge, firing the ball back to Brett Stewart who raced 40 metres to score under the posts for a 10-6 lead they would take to halftime.
Canterbury struck back in the 47th minute, halfback Kris Keating grubber-kicking into the in-goal, then winning the race to the ball.
But the turning point came in the 56th minute, when Ben Barba finished off a blistering backline move that saw Canterbury shift the ball from right sideline to left and travel 70 metres before the Dally M Medal winner touched down for a try that when converted delivered the final scoreline.
It was a tight contest throughout – Manly edged possession 52 per cent to 48 per cent and completed 37 sets compared to Canterbury’s 36 – although both teams made a glut of mistakes (Manly 17 errors, 59 per cent completions, Bulldogs 11 errors, 69 per cent completions).
Canterbury were best served by Josh Morris who made two try assists and 148 metres, and prop Aiden Tolman who made 17 hit-ups for 139 metres.
Manly winger Jorge Taufua made 14 tackle busts on the way to a whopping 245 metres, while back-rowers Tony Williams and Anthony Watmough made a combined 35 hit-ups for 277 metres.