THE GOOD: I wrote a post last week with the title "why beating the Dogs next week is so cricital". Clearly they were going to be desperate for one final tilt at the top 8, and clearly they were going to come out and play as hard and fast as possible. I didn't care how we won or by how many. This game was all about 2 points and one more step closer to securing 2nd place. 1st half: A strange first 40 where the Dogs had the better field possession. We defended gamely as usual, but just as it seemed they would open the scoring a dreadful offload in our 10m zone saw Foran sprint 40 metres to the halfway line before being caught. With the Dogs defence in tatters, DCE used great vision to find Lyon out wide, who not only beat his man but threw one of his perfect reverse flick passes to a flying David Williams who sprinted away to score. There's not many better sights than seeing the Wolfman in full flight and the hill loved it. It felt like a mini turning point where we might get on top, but the Dogs kept coming at us, and only not one but two Idris howlers saved us 2 certain tries. Another Dogs raid saw Foran make what looked like a wonderful try saving tackle, but the refs saw it as a tackle without the ball and gave him a pretty harsh 10 in the bin. Even harsher was the Fox commentators claimimg it should have been a penalty try. Really? Did I miss something? Despite being down a man our defence was excellent, and a smart DCE kicking game saw the clock tick down to under 2 mins before HT. But what seemed to me like a perfect opportunity to cement a 12-4 HT lead with a try was nullified when DCE rather curiously snapped a field goal. It wasn't a terrible decision, but 7-4 wasn't a lot better than 6-4. Where we coasting a little too comfortably? It only took a few minutes to find out when our right side attack saw Glenn float a sloppy pass into the Dogs arms for a gift intercept try. Suddenly it was HT and we were trailing 10-7. 2nd half: The Dogs were here to play, but it's become a great comfort to know that Dessie's HT speeches are never short of passion and usually result in a much improved 2nd half. Last week being perfect proof. We weren't going to let this one go, and especially at Fortress Brookie. Right on cue we hit back with two scrappy but much needed tries. The first when Glenn fell backwards to trap a messy spilt bomb, and the second when Jamie corrected a disjointed play with a surge at the try line to somehow force it down. You gotta love Jamie Lyon he rarely disappoints, and he added to that with another perfectly guided conversion to give us what felt like a pretty safe 17-10 lead. Not to be denied, the Dogs hit back with a 55th min try when Barba secured a short grubber. But was it really a try? For reasons only known to them, the refs showed no interest in what looked like a pretty solid case for interference given the hulking Idris blatantly shoved Robbo out of the way. A lovely DCE break should have resulted in a classic Brett try under the posts, but with the Dogs defence converging DCE's decision to kick ahead for Brett came unstuck when the ball ballooned into the in goal and raced over the dead ball line before a flying Brett could get there. A pity cos I'm really missing Brett's Brookie tries, perhaps he's saving one or two gems for next week. The deciding play of the day was even stranger when the Dogs all totally froze on a Matai tackle, seemingly unsure as to whether they were off side, and Matai quickly realised he was a free agent to sprint away for the tryline. The Dogs defence seemed to have him covered a metre out, but there's no Manly player keener to score than Matai and he smashed through 3 or 4 of them to score the match winning try. A late penalty put the Dogs season to rest as the rain came tumbling down to spoil the traditional victory lap of honour. Individual performances. Once again Brett seemed to be in 2nd/3rd gear but again I'm not worried. I sense there's a big gear change being saved for the Storm and the semis. Wolfie was great all day with some barnstorming runs. Jamie Lyon proved that he doesn't even have to play a blinder to be so valuable. Matai was inspirationally great as usual, but that said, and for all the great breaks he makes, I would seriously not blame Robbo for reminding Matai that he does have a very capable winger on his outside. Come on Steve you don't need to score them all pass the bloody ball to Robbo! Foran was solid as usual but I still think needs a week off. In the pack Kitey, George, Watmough, Joe and the rapidly developing Lussick all made over 100 excellent metres, Joe's all the more impressive given Dessie only gave him 23 minutes. Of course Ballin put in his usual 45 tackles, and Glenn worked equally hard. I'm not sure I understand the point of only giving Tim Robinson 18 minutes, he surely could do with more game time, but Dessie knows best. For the 2nd week running DCE took the Man of the Match honours once again taking control of the game with well timed kicks and his improved attack. THE BAD: A few lapses of concentration, but nothing to worry about for mine. Some are already predictably crowing about us being out of form, blah blah. Clearly these people have no idea. We're running an incredible 2nd, we are undefeated at home, and we are cleverly pacing ourselves for the bigger games ahead. Anything bad about that? THE UGLY: The fact the refs and the media have a mind numbing obsession to pick on Watmough and Matai. All day on my sports ears the two refs were once again obsessed with predicting what Watmough might want to do. "Watch Watmough I think he's going to go after Romelo" was one call. Talk about looking for a problem. It's insane. Call the plays as they happen guys not what you might imagine will happen. And as for Matai's so called trip have you ever heard such crap? He made a desperate attempt to make a tackle and was so stretched his leg was in front of his body which Stagg fell over. If that's an intentional trip to harm an opposition player I give up. Sure we were lucky Idris threw away (count them) 3 almost certain tries, but we did the job required, and it's another very, very satisfying 2 points. Bring on the Storm.