Sea Eagles v Bulldogs: Five key points

Sea Eagles v Bulldogs: Five key points

Eight fresh faces led coach Trent Barrett’s first ever charge into a new season to no avail as a dominant Bulldogs side, led by their point-proving big boppers, came away with a 28-6 victory. 

Bulldogs big men defy concerns

With interchanges now cut from 10 to eight, pre-season concerns of how the Bulldogs big men would handle the change are surely now dead and buried.

Led by skipper James Graham and Aiden Tolman (who together were two runs short of equalling those produced by Manly’s entire starting forward pack), the Bulldogs orchestrated their interchanges perfectly.

"They changed their lifestyles and I have to give a huge rap to the individuals that worked really hard in our high performance unit, but also to the players who bought into the mentality," coach Des Hasler said post-game.

"Let’s not get carried away though, it’s Round 1 and there’s still a lot of footy to be played."

Graham, who has been a sceptic of recent rule changes, took it in his stride.

"I’ve always said any game of rugby league is always difficult – whether it’s 10 subs, eight subs, or 12 – whatever it is, it’s always difficult," he said.

"It was hard but every game is hard."

The struggle is real for Sea Eagles

The Sea Eagles looked every bit of a side who had never played together before.

No matter the experience of Manly’s new octet it just went to show how valuable time together will prove. 

Fearless leader Daly Cherry-Evans tried his best to get the ball rolling for his team – especially with the Bulldogs shooting to a 22-0 half-time lead – but for the most part he was running in circles searching for options. 

It was clear Cherry-Evans’s halves partner Dylan Walker will take some time to become 100 per cent comfortable in the No. 6 jumper. 

Walker provided a mixed bag with several deft kicks cancelled out by crucial errors in key moments of the game. 

"It was never going to be the finished product. It was the first game they played together and I thought it looked like that at times," coach Barrett said post-game.

"We have some work to do with our continuity of our six, seven, nine and one. Hopefully we get Snake [Brett Stewart] back in there but again he wouldn’t have played many games with them either so it’ll take some time."

Bulldogs halves find their balance 

Josh Reynolds and Moses Mbye came up with four try assists between them in their first showing as the Bulldogs’ halves for 2016. 

Gone is Trent Hodkinson but there were good signs of poise and direction between the new pair, something that will hold them in good stead in the weeks to come.

However such is the way Hasler operates, he was quick to turn the attention away from his halves and on to another particular troop of his. 

"I thought they were pretty good, pretty solid but they still have some improvement to go and that’ll come," he said.

"I thought Will Hopoate was really solid at the back, he was particularly strong."

Morris clan end week on a high

Brett Morris’s week could have been better but at least his twin Josh was able to secure a slice of history for the pair.

Josh’s 32nd minute try was his 100th in his NRL career, meaning he and Brett became the first set of siblings to both secure the feat. 

Funnily enough their father Steve, a Dragons legend in his own right, managed the achievement in the 80s. 

The Morris twins’ teammate Moses Mbye is expecting a free lunch this week by the way, after producing the kick that allowed Josh to touchdown for the 100th time. 

"That’s right, I got him his 100. I’ll have to hit him up about that. He owes me at least a feed. I’ll have to chase him up about that," Mbye said.

"He’s a prolific try scorer Josh, he’s very powerful and he’s had a stellar career. I think he has a few in him yet."

Wiliame’s dirty dozen 

Poor Brayden Wiliame can’t catch a break. 

The 23-year-old has played 12 NRL games in stints at the Eels and Sea Eagles since his debut midway through 2013 and is yet to win a single one.

Drafted into Manly’s side with Brett Stewart ruled out with a hamstring injury, Wiliame’s status for the Wests Tigers next Monday night is dependent on the fullback’s fitness. 

 

Sea Eagles v Bulldogs: Five key points

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