The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs travelled to Brookvale to face the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, as Round 22 of the NRL celebrated the women in league.
In a rather lacklustre performance, the blue and white wave that had been building momentum over the previous fortnight, after wins against the Broncos and Tigers, came crashing down in a sea of poorly executed last tackle options and unimaginative attack.
Lachlan Lewis withdrew from the selected seventeen for personal reasons and Matt Frawley stepped in to work in the halves with Jeremy Marshall-King and it was that line-up change that caused many of the issues the Dogs faced on the night.
It was a cagey and low scoring start to the contest after an early penalty to Daly Cherry-Evans. Reimis Smith ran an excellent line through the centre of the ruck to score after twenty minutes and the Bulldogs had hope. Another penalty drew the Eagles closer prior to the break yet the Bulldogs held sway 6-4, as the teams headed to the sheds.
The lead should have been far greater and once again highlighted the attacking deficiencies in the Canterbury spine without Lewis involved. Matt Frawley struggled throughout and Marshall-King was unable to create definitive chances on the fringe of the ruck.
As well as the Bulldgogs defended in the second-half, the rather aimless decisions with the ball never really threatened the Eagles line consistently enough and two tries from Tom Trbojevic and a four pointer to Addin Fonua-Blake saw the home side kick away to a comfortable 18-6 victory.
David Klemmer and Aiden Tolman both tallied just shy of two hundred metres and decent numbers they are, however, it has been the trend in recent years for the Bulldogs to become too forward orientated when the halves fail to create. It happened again last night. It continues a pattern of big forward running numbers, high completions and plenty of possession, yet little creativity and an inability to score frequently enough.
It is undoubtedly Dean Pay’s biggest challenge leading into 2019 and a fit and fresh Keiran Foran or the young and enthusiastic Jack Cogger might be lurking in the back of his mind, as he tries to instill some attacking potency into his team.
Three weeks remain in the competition and the Bulldogs will look to continue their role as spoiler, starting this coming Sunday against the Warriors at ANZ. It will be a tough ask, with the Warriors looking a real threat the longer the season runs and the Bulldogs slipping into some bad attacking habits against the Eagles.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 6 Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 18
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