Michael Ennis has starred in Canterbury’s 23-16 win over Manly.
A late field goal and last gasp try from Canterbury captain Michael Ennis has given Canterbury a 23-16 win over Manly, the Bulldogs joining the Sea Eagles at the top of the NRL ladder in the process.
In a sloppy, error strewn contest the scores were locked at 16-all before Ennis calmly slotted the one-pointer five minutes from time.
He then strolled over in the 80th minute for the match-sealer which came from a Tim Browne forward pass that surprisingly went undetected by match officials.
The crucial State of Origin period win for the Dogs moves them alongside Manly on 24 points.
Penrith can join them there at the end of round 17 with a win over Wests Tigers on Sunday.
With both sides hit hard by Origin commitments and injury, Manly drew first blood when Dunamis Lui crashed over in the 16th minute through some soft Dogs goalline defence after some clever work from Matt Ballin from dummy half.
Seven minutes later Canterbury struck back in a carbon copy try when James Graham bust his way over from close range to tie the scores at 6-6 after Jamie Lyon and Krisnan Inu both converted.
With Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds missing due to NSW duty, Tony Williams and Josh Jackson stepped into the Bulldogs halves, with `T-Rex’ leading the home side around the park admirably.
His long pass put Sam Kasiano over for a controversial no try in the corner and in the 36th minute a Williams pass to Inu created space for the Kiwi star and he beat three players on is way to the line.
Inu converted his own try for the Dogs to lead 12-6 at the break.
Clinton Gutherson crossed from a lovely Brett Stewart pass four minutes after the resumption before Corey Thompson took advantage of an error from the Manly fullback in his own in-goal to hit back in the 54th minute and cut the Dogs’ lead to 16-10.
Justin Horo brought the Sea Eagles closer after Mitch Brown made a meal of a Jack Littlejohn kick and Lyon’s conversion levelled the scores with 20 minutes to play.
With Aidan Tolman injured (hamstring) in the first half, the Dogs battled away with a three-man bench and Manly had the chance to pull ahead four minutes from time when Peta Hiku burst upfield.
But the movement broke down for Canterbury to take full advantage with Ennis’ final try.
Bulldogs coach Des Hasler said his side toughed out a crucial win without their Origin stars, after just one other result in the interstate period.
“Given the circumstances, what we went into the game with, the number of players we have to come back and the number of players that were out injured, I was pretty pleased to get the points,” Hasler said.
“I was pretty proud of their efforts, particularly with the way the competition is and how tight it is.
“Losing Tolman early wasn’t easy but it gives young blokes like Lloyd Perrett the chance to come through.
Manly were minus Queensland halfback Daly Cherry-Evans and mentor Geoff Toovey said it was one of the Sea Eagles’ most disappointing performances of the year.
“We were lucky to be in the contest tonight and we could have snatched it but we were just flat,” he said.
“Coming down last week after a very solid performance against the Roosters, maybe there was a lull there.”
Toovey made light of an altercation he had with a Bulldogs fan at halftime near the tunnel.
“I reacted to some lunatic. I shouldn’t have – a few words were exchanged,” Toovey said.
“I don’t mind mingling with the fans but this bloke just got under my skin, it was silly of me and I apologise for reacting the way I did.”
Asked what the fan said to him Toovey replied: “I can’t remember.”
Asked what he said to the fan Toovey replied: “I am not”.