Sea Eagles v Bulldogs: Five key points
Following on from Canterbury's grinding win over Manly, here are five things we learned from the Telstra Premiership Round 3 clash at Brookvale.
Manly has some great young forwards coming through
Jake Trbojevic is going to be an awesome front-rower for the Sea Eagles. He just looks so eager to get involved.
His huge hit on a barnstorming Tom Learoyd-Lahrs in the first couple of seconds of his second ever NRL game last week against the Storm was absolutely amazing.
That was followed up with some great intent and attitude by the local junior against a huge Bulldogs pack in Round 3.
Trbojevic, who had 11 runs in minimal minutes, was pushed back and smashed in a couple of gang tackles, but seemed like he loved every minute of it.
Stand-in five-eighth Feleti Mateo heaped praise on the Sea Eagles' forward pack after they went toe-to-toe with their much larger opponents.
"I take my hat off to those boys, they kept us in the game for most of it with their defence," Mateo said.
"It's awesome to see the young guys come through, they've been working really hard over the summer.
"Dunamis Lui in the middle there, he's the guy that's really stood out for me, he's led through his defence and taking it forward when we need to."
Never allow an attacking bomb to bounce in your own territory
On three occasions the Sea Eagles and Bulldogs regained their own kicks because the receiving team allowed the ball to bounce.
Both teams recovered one kick-off each thanks to well-placed restarts and a lack of urgency by their opponents to get a man under the ball.
The biggest example of this lesson though came in the 35th minute as Steve Matai found out the hard way that a rugby league ball can go anywhere if you allow it to bounce.
With his back turned to the falling ball, and expecting his fullback Brett Stewart to make the catch, Matai allowed Moses Mbye's bomb to bounce.
It was a big mistake as the ball ended up in the arms of a flying Sam Perrett who found Tim Lafai for a Bulldogs four-pointer.
Feleti Mateo is a natural at five-eighth
Sometimes you watch Feleti Mateo and you wonder why he is ever wasted in the forwards.
Admittedly, his creative potential at times leads him to try flashy plays when there is no need to do so, but not against the Bulldogs.
Mateo was composed and staked a claim at the Manly No.6 jersey long-term post-Kieran Foran.
In the 21st minute Mateo was sent a wobbly pass. In wet and windy conditions he caught the ball around his boot-laces before sending out a perfect ball for a looping Brett Stewart.
The brilliant play went somewhat unnoticed because the resulting try was disallowed, however it was yet another brilliant example of Mateo's effortless effectiveness in the playmaking role.
Unfortunately for Mateo's playmaking hopes, but perhaps fortunately for Manly, star five-eighth Foran is back in a couple of weeks. But we'd love to see the former Warrior continue to get involved in the playmaking.
The Brookvale Oval pitch needs an upgrade
The playing surface was patchy on Friday night and required some half-time fix-up work to keep it at a tenable level.
Brett Stewart and James Graham both hosed down any suggestion that it was a major issue in the match.
"I think Brookie's been that sort of length for a while now, both teams had to deal with it so that's not an excuse," Stewart said post-game.
Graham, who has some great experience on sub-par football pitches, was clearly unfazed by the condition of the surface.
"I've played on worse, it's not ideal but it's the same for both teams. I don't think we can have too many complaints."
Manly coach Geoff Toovey gave his thoughts on the matter after the match, calling for increased funding.
"I know we've been lobbying for some money like all the other ovals seem to receive over the years... I don't want to get into politics but we seem to miss out quite a bit," Toovey said.
DCE is good in defence as well as really good in attack. DCE is just really good.
His staunch defence doesn't get as many headlines as the other facets of his game, but on top of another stand-out performance that included three try-assists, Daly Cherry-Evans was a brick wall in defence.
The Manly halfback made 22 effective tackles that included a number of rushing, ball-and-all style efforts on opposition playmakers.
DCE just keeps silencing his critics.