The Sea Eagles have been eliminated from the 2014 NRL competition after suffering a heartbreaking 18-17 loss to the Bulldogs in golden point extra time on Saturday night.
In Brett Stewart’s 200th game for Manly, the Sea Eagles were out to prevent a straight sets exit from the competition after losing their first final last week.
It was a case of daje vu for Geoff Toovey’s men, who leaked 16 unanswered points inside the opening quarter to fall well behind the eight ball.
Just like their last start against the Rabbitohs, the Sea Eagles failed to match it up the middle as the Dogs ran riot in the early stages.
The Bulldogs shifted left to find Mitch Brown in the corner before fellow winger Corey Thompson extended his side’s lead when Canterbury moved left.
Manly struggled to hold off their opposition and soon found them themselves 16 points behind as Sam Perrett showed off his fancy footwork to score under the posts.
Things quickly went from bad to worse for the Sea Eagles when front-rower Josh Starling was sent to the bin for a punch, which connected with the head of Canterbury’s Josh Jackson.
But despite having only 12 men on the park, Manly managed to hold off a resurgent Bulldogs pack to eventually get on the board just seconds out from half time.
Jayden Hodges tricking the Bulldogs defensive line as he darted out of dummy half before ducking under for his side’s first of the evening.
The two sides went set for set in the opening 20 minutes of the second half before man of the moment Brett Stewart punctured a whole in the Canterbury defence to reduce the gap to just four points.
The fullback’s try clicked the Sea Eagles into gear as they marched up the field and scored almost immediately through Cheyse Blair.
In one of the most bizarre passage of plays, Blair latched onto a ball that ricocheted off Michael Ennis’ chest to draw level. But following the try, Reni Maitua was sent to the bin for the second punch of the match.
With Jamie Lyon’s conversion from the sideline unsuccessful, the game appeared to be going into extra time, until Bulldogs halfback Trent Hodkinson kicked a field goal to take the lead with five minutes to spare.
With barely a minute on the clock, Manly’s no.7 stepped up to the plate to take the game into golden point with a field goal from 25 metres out.
But four minutes into golden point, Canterbury’s halfback kicked his second field goal of the night to end Manly’s season.