NRL FINALS - Bulldogs v Sea Eagles
Thursday 6 September 2012 12:38 PM
NRL finals football 2012 is all primed to erupt with a stunning opening week one contest when the minor premiership-winning Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs host 2011 premiers the Manly Sea Eagles at ANZ Stadium tomorrow night (9.45pm kick-off NZ time).
It’s a battle promising everything most of all a battle of the coaches – ex-Manly boss Des Hasler up against his old club and his former assistant Geoff Toovey.
The line-ups throw up an array of outstanding talents – the opposing fullbacks Brett Stewart and Barba as well as Steve Matai and Jamie Lyon in the centres for Manly up against Josh Morris and Krisnan Inu for the Bulldogs. In the halves Manly has the ultra-talented young duo of Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans and up front the Bulldogs boast the big bopper Sam Kasiano in the front row, hooker Michael Ennis, Kiwi internationals Frank Pritchard and Greg Eastwood in the back row plus the outstanding Englishman James Graham on the bench; Manly has a seasoned front row of Jason King, Matt Ballin and Brent Kite backed up by the talents of Anthony Watmough, Tony Williams and Glenn Stewart in the back row.
The Bulldogs have superior numbers for points scored (568-497) and conceded (369-403) but in most of the other team statistical indicators there’s not a lot between the two sides.
Both certainly have form in their favour; while the Bulldogs lost to Canberra two weeks ago they’ve won 13 of their last 14 matches while Manly goes into tomorrow night’s encounter on the back of a six-game winning streak since losing 12-20 to the Bulldogs at Brookvale Oval.
Many observers fancy Manly to go all the way despite the Bulldogs’ achievements so far this season; certainly the Sea Eagles have been in ominous mood lately, grinding out some tough wins in familiar finals style.
The Bulldogs totally dominated the Dally M Awards on Tuesday night, fullback Ben Barba cleaning up with five individual awards while centre Morris and prop Sam Kasiano made the Dally M Team of the Year alongside their brilliant fullback. And Hasler was named the Dally M Coach of the Year.
In the other regular season clash between the two sides earlier in the campaign Manly won 12-10 at ANZ Stadium. Manly has a 5-3 edge in eight matches between the two sides at ANZ Stadium while in 115 clashes between them Manly heads the ledger 61-49 with five matches drawn.
Teams for tomorrow night are:
BULLDOGS: Ben Barba, Sam Perrett, Josh Morris, Krisnan Inu, Jonathan Wright, Josh Reynolds, Kris Keating, Aiden Tolman, Michael Ennis, Sam Kasiano, Frank Pritchard, Josh Jackson, Greg Eastwood. Interchange (from): James Graham, Dale Finucane, Corey Payne, David Stagg, Dene Halatau, Martin Taupau
SEA EAGLES: Brett Stewart, Jorge Taufua, Jamie Lyon (c), Steve Matai, Dean Whare, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Jason King (c), Matt Ballin, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Tony Williams, Glenn Stewart. Interchange (from): Jamie Buhrer, Joe Galuvao, Darcy Lussick, Vic Mauro, George Rose
Referees: Ben Cummins and Ashley KleinA