Hodkinson seals Dogs’ golden-point NRL win
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Former Manly halfback Trent Hodkinson kept Canterbury’s roll going and delivered a devastating blow to the Sea Eagles, as his side scored a thrilling 32-30 golden-point NRL win at Brookvale Oval.
Manly came from 30-12 down to force extra time with three converted tries in 13 minutes.
Halfback Daly Cherry-Evans crossed twice and Steve Matai scampered over with less than two minutes left, with Jamie Lyon nervelessly kicking the tough conversion.
The game ended in contentious fashion, when Hodkinson kicked a match-clinching penalty goal in golden point time.
His kick was made easier when the penalty, awarded for the tackled player not being released quickly enough after being called held, was advanced 10 metres when Kieran Foran queried the decision.
Earlier, Manly would not have been pleased with a second-half try awarded to Josh Reynolds when he appeared to be stopped short of the line.
The Bulldogs made it seven wins from their past eight games, while Manly have tasted just two victories in their past seven encounters.
The powerful Bulldogs pack was well led by Englishman James Graham, who made numerous surging runs.
In the backs, Ben Barba, Hodkinson and five-eighth Josh Reynolds were prominent.
Barba made it six tries from four games at Brookvale with a double, while Hodkinson set up the first three tries with two kicks and a pass.
Manly’s representative forward Anthony Watmough left the field in the second half with a cork.
The Sea Eagles turned the ball over immediately after the match kicked off and Josh Morris timed his jump perfectly to claim a Hodkinson bomb for the opening four-pointer after 75 seconds.
Nine minutes later, Barba dotted down for the second try after Foran and Matai failed to defuse a Hodkinson bomb.
Forward Frank Pritchard was the next beneficiary of Hodkinson’s good work, smashing through some flimsy defence off his halfback’s inside pass.
The shellshocked Sea Eagles finally managed to get on the board in the 26th minute through a try to winger Jorge Taufua.
The Bulldogs took less than three minutes of the second half to restore their 18-point advantage.
Krisnan Inu made a break and linked with Reynolds, who sent Barba clear for his second try.
Justin Horo crossed for Manly’s second try, but Reynolds appeared to have put the match out of their reach.
Manly coach Geoff Toovey said Watmough will be fine, meaning he will be available for NSW in the second State of Origin match.
Toovey also said he was perplexed and dumbfounded by some of the refereeing decisions.
“I think you can see it was short,” Toovey said of the Reynolds try.
“I think the last penalty was pretty well obvious as well, but that’s only my decision.
“In my opinion they conned the ref.”
Reynolds was adamant he was in the right in both instances.
“I was looking at the replay and I thought it (the ball) was on the line (for my try),” Reynolds said.
Asked about whether he had milked the decisive penalty Reynolds retorted “I’m trying to get out of the tackle, what do you want me to do, stay there and get smashed?”
Bulldogs coach Des Hasler was happy to win given Manly’s large edge in possession and penalty count advantage, but wasn’t getting excited about winning four in a row.
“Its a win we’re not going to get carried away with it, we had five tries posted against us,” Hasler said.© AAP 2014