The Bulldogs held on through a third quarter comeback from the Manly / Warringah Wolves to produce a 50 point win in their first home game of the season at Henson Park.
While the Bulldogs got off to another quick start, the third quarter was dominated by the Wolves who scored 30 unanswered points to come within 16 of the home side.
However, a rejuvenated Bulldogs answered in kind during the fourth term to ensure they finished on the right side of the ledger with 115 points (17.13), to the Wolves 65 (10.5)
Bulldogs Coach, Steve Pollock, once again praised his team’s ability to start well and labelled it a “key” factor to the win.
“We’re getting out of the box and again we are being hunted rather than having to hunt ourselves,” Pollock said. “Our starts are the key and…probably the finish as well. We are running our games pretty well so far.”
The Bulldogs scored within the first minute of play at Henson Park, and while the Wolves replied almost immediately with one of their own, the Dogs held onto the momentum with four more goals in the first quarter to finish the term 32 (5.2) to 9 (1.3).
This was a position that the Wolves struggled to recover from in the second despite multiple missed opportunities from the Bulldogs. Fumbles and miss kicks didn’t cost the home side as they ran away from the Wolves to score another four goals, finishing the quarter 62 (9.8) to the Wolves’ 22 (3.4).
However, a tired looking Bulldogs side began the third term sloppily. Kicks failed to reach their targets and receivers struggled to hold onto the ball as Manly/Warringah maintained pressure on the Dogs’ 50.
The Wolves used this pressure to grab the momentum and score five unanswered goals to reduce the margin to 16 points and leave the Bulldogs and their supporters flat, but the Bulldogs gained a brief reprieve to end the quarter as they scored another goal and behind.
Bulldogs co-captain, Jeremy Daniher, admitted that he felt like eating his words during the third quarter after last week declaring the Wolves as a team they “should beat”, but maintained confidence in the team.
“Heart in the mouth for a moment there,” he said. “We probably got a bit complacent and let them get on top for a little bit there”
“I did feel like eating my words but I had confidence in the boys after a big pre-season we would have the fitness to run over them”
Daniher’s confidence was well placed in the end, despite a feeling at the start of the final quarter that the Wolves could run away with it. However, the Bulldogs quickly put those fears to rest as they opened the quarter with a goal and went on to score another five to ensure the victory.
Co-captain Jack McAnespie, said that he felt the victory came off the back of performances from their newer teammates, including last week’s league rising star, Harry Palmer.
“It was really impressive that even though a few of those senior guys probably weren’t having a great day, it was the younger guys who brought the heat,” McAnespie said.
“Harry Palmer was fantastic, Lochie Edmunds again was really good, Sammy Wilson in the second half was fantastic, and Tommy Banuelos…was really really good.”
Lucas Baird, UNSW/ES Bulldogs Reporter
Goal Kickers: M. Dragicevic 6, J. Cann 2, M. Lower 2, T. Dickson 2, J. Buckley, J. Robbie, T. Banuelos, S. Wilson, H. Annear
Best Players: H. Annear, J. Vunitabua, M. Lower, M. Dragicevic, J. Buckley, A. Foote
MANLY WARRINGAH WOLVES
Goal Kickers: H. Washington 3, J. Field 3, C. Pettersson 2, L. Brain, L. Behagg
Best Players: A. Robertson, J. Lumsden, G. Smith, C. Pettersson, H. Washington