By Greg Prichard MANLY captain Ben Kennedy said he and the rest of the Sea Eagles forwards drew confidence from Bulldogs prop Mark O'Meley's pre-match rating of them as the real deal. O'Meley said in the Herald on Saturday that he had been very impressed by the Manly forwards and that the Bulldogs forwards needed to improve if they wanted to go with them in yesterday's match. "I've been watching them and they've certainly got a lot of fire in the belly," O'Meley said. "We're going to have to lift our performance and demand more of each other when we play them." Kennedy said the comments had not been missed. "It's a big wrap, coming from 'Ogre'," Kennedy said. "He plays a very physical game and for him to come out and say that gave us a bit of confidence." O'Meley was spot on with his assessment of Manly as a force this year but unfortunately for the Bulldogs the improvement he said they needed didn't come. "We didn't stick to our game plan," O'Meley said. "We didn't compete and put ourselves in the game at all. "Maybe there wasn't enough attitude from us going into the game, but that wouldn't have had anything to do with a lack of respect for them. We knew they were good. "We just didn't seem to come out with any intensity and we dropped the ball too much. We were quiet before the game. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but maybe we were a bit too quiet." O'Meley said Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes did not speak at length to the team in the dressing room after the game. "I'm sure he knew that we knew [how badly the Bulldogs had played]," he said. "I'm sure it will be dealt with at training." Told that Folkes had extended an unsolicited apology to the Bulldogs fans and sponsors for the performance, O'Meley said: "I'd say that was probably justified." But, O'Meley added: "As long as we can learn from it, that's the main thing. There was a bit of luck in some of Manly's tries, but you make your own luck. We need to learn from the mistakes we made if we're going to go forward from here." Kennedy knows what it takes to win a premiership, having won one with Newcastle in 2001. And he made it clear he believed that Manly - at their best - were genuine contenders. The key, he stressed, was developing the ability to consistently play at or near peak form. "It's a bit early to get carried away, but if we don't make mistakes we can compete with anyone," Kennedy said. "If we play at the standard that we can, we're going to be hard to beat."