Bulldogs v Sea Eagles: Five key points
It took 89 minutes to separate two desperate teams but in the end it was a Josh Reynolds try from a wickedly bouncing Sam Perrett kick that ended Manly's season. Here are five talking points from the 20-16 extra time win.
Golden point on the nose with coaches
After eight minutes and 41 seconds of extra time, one disallowed try, six missed field goals and plenty of scrappy play throughout, the assessment from both the winning and losing coach was that the current golden point system needs to be reassessed during the off season.
Bulldogs coach Des Hasler said recent criticism of golden point wouldn't be likely to change on the evidence of Thursday night's game. He questioned the way the period was officiated, particularly in regard to the policing of the 10 metres.
"Probably both sides were guilty of it (being inside the 10 during extra time), I thought it spoilt the game, I really did. I just hope going forward they keep sides apart," Hasler said.
"They could have blown a penalty at any stage there for both sides, whether it be offside or whether the markers aren't square... we're not the first game to happen like that. The golden point, I think it will be reviewed in the off season."
"Everyone's offside, the markers aren't square," Barrett said.
"I hope they do [look at it] because it's a lottery really, in the end. We were having pot shots, they were having pot shots, the referees aren't game to make a decision because they'd be crucified too if they make the wrong one. I get they're under a lot of pressure the refs but I think we do need to have a look at it."
The penalty that almost ended it early
The match almost didn't make it to golden point, with Manly skipper Jamie Lyon missing a tricky long-range penalty goal attempt right on full-time.
The shot was allowed because after Manly had moved downfield on their last set of regulation time, back-rower Jamie Buhrer had the ball dislodged (or just lost it, depending on where you sit) as he got up to play the ball after being tackled.
Dogs prop Sam Kasiano was penalised for interfering in the play the ball, drawing the instant ire of Dogs skipper James Graham. While the call ended up not being costly for the Dogs, Hasler after the game – perhaps unsurprisingly – he thought Buhrer had lost it cold.
However he also praised his team's ability to not let it worry them and get on with the job afterwards.
Reynolds rebounds from no-try no drama to bag winner
Channel Nine's in-game commentators weren't impressed by the bunker's decision to disallow a try to Josh Reynolds early on in golden point after he chased through on his own kick which was spilled by Daly Cherry-Evans and gave the Manly playmaker a push in the back in his rush to get the ball.
However, while Cherry-Evans almost certainly wouldn't have been a factor in the play either way, the interference was off the ball; at worst it was a 50-50 call and the Bulldogs camp weren't complaining after the game.
Either way it was a critical time in the game and to Reynolds' credit he brushed off the disappointment to put himself in position to score the match-winner later in golden point.
It did present a cruel blow to Manly youngster Tom Trbojevic who had battled on bravely after looking like succumbing to an ankle injury early to play out the game, only to be wrong-footed by a Sam Perrett last-play grubber in the 88th minute that threatened to pop up and instead scooted along past his attempted stop, with Reynolds on hand to clean up.
"The first indiscretion on Josh where he pushed a player, did it have much effect on [the play], I don't know," Hasler said.
"But look we showed plenty of resilience to overcome the penalty (against Sam Kasiano right before full-time), to overcome the no-try ruling, I thought they showed plenty of character to get over those moments. Sometimes those moments happen and sides will fall away but we held strong to the task and finished it off."
Manly accept season is over but refuse to lie down
Barrett freely admitted his troops were "shattered" after the season-ending loss but vowed the team would do its best to give a good account of themselves over the closing rounds.
Even three straight wins from here only gets Manly to 26 competition points – they would need a miraculous run of favourable results even if they did get those three wins, which includes the next fortnight against top-four sides Melbourne and Cronulla. Realistically, it's time to start planning for Mad Monday and Barrett wasn't shying away from the fact.
"The boys are shattered obviously but from my point of view I couldn't be more proud of their effort and their fight," Barrett said.
"It was all on the line for us… we knew we had to win to make the semi-finals and we gave ourselves every chance.
"We've got some young blokes in the side who will learn from it and we'll be better for it."
While he wouldn't fault the players' effort he added there were still things to improve on.
"I've got some tough players in there (in the sheds) and they're going to be better for it. And we'll get better and better and hold our hands up the last three rounds and then we'll have a big off season and get everything going [in 2017]."
Dogs' defence frustrates Manly in dominant first half
Canterbury held just 43 per cent of the ball in the first half – a period that saw Manly start 10 sets inside the Bulldogs half, compared to just four by the Dogs. Manly kicked six times inside Canterbury's 10-metre zone compared to just twice from the Dogs down the other end.
Despite all this, Canterbury went to the break leading 12-6 in a clear sign that while it may not always be pretty, it's often effective and they're not sitting in the top four by accident.
"I thought we still had our chances to win," said Barrett of that first half passage, refusing to blame the lack of first-half points for the result.
"They're a top four side for a reason, they're hard to score against, they don't just give up points easily.
"I thought we showed a lot of discipline to keep knocking on the door and put a good try on in the second half straight away."