The Bulldogs were looking to keep the momentum rolling on from their Round One victory on a bright sunny day as they took on Manly Warringah at Henson Park.
The first quarter mostly revolved around quick, clean ball movement from the home side who jumped to a 20-nil lead early on before some tough work from Manly in their forward 50 saw them kick their first 6 pointer for the match. The Wolves were running hard but couldn’t find a way to shutdown the Dog’s forward line, with Nick McGann especially prolific scoring three goals for the home side in the first term. Some pride was returned to the maroon and white jersey with better second efforts and brilliant spoils starting to become evident on the paddock, however the Dogs were looking sharp at quarter time with the scoreboard reading 6.3 (36) to 1.0 (6).
After some quickfire words from Coach Tom Williamson, the Bulldogs started where they left off, hitting a superb running goal to kick the first major for the second quarter. The red, white and blue midfield appeared to be a sleek unit, showcasing excellent disposal efficiency as they powered through the Wolves’ midfield and pressured the defensive line with rapid entries into the forwards.
After slotting another six goals, the Dogs took what looked to be an unassailable lead into the main break with the scoreboard at Henson Park working over time to record a 12.6 (78) to 1.1 (7) tally. Captain Chris Jourdain put this down to his boys “just getting first hands to the footy, and keeping the ball off them.”
The third quarter started with the Wolves getting the first goal in almost half an hour of footy, before being let down by turnovers as the pressure surged. The Manly defence were left with no time to set up structures after repeat inside 50s, and the boys from the Eastern Suburbs were allowed to score too freely as the sun bore down. The only thing stopping the home team getting a 100 point lead was inaccuracy in front of goal, but they had still set up a game winning lead, 14.14 (98) to 2.2 (14).
The Bulldogs started off with two behinds to get them to triple figures at the start of the last before the Wolves were able to get their first back to back goals through sheer force of will as they managed to create some space in the forward 50. Manly were able to get a bit back in the last quarter to give the Bulldog’s coaches’ something to work on as they ultimately triumphed: 18.13 (121) to 6.2 (38).
Post game, Williamson conceded it’s difficult to stay focused with such a lead going into the second half. “It is hard when you are in front by that margin, but you need to focus on the job at hand. It could come down to percentage at the end of the day.”
Debutante Brad Pattison agreed with the coach, and was pleased to “blow out the cobwebs” and get the win in his first game. “We created a lot of good space in the forward line so there wasn’t a lot of congestion. More 1-on-1s suits us.”
Jack Smith, UNSW/ES Bulldogs Reporter