Under-siege NSW playmaker Josh Reynolds and utility Moses Mbye piloted Canterbury to a vital 28-16 NRL win over Manly on Friday at ANZ Stadium.
Reynolds and his Bulldogs and Blues halves partner Trent Hodkinson have come under heavy criticism for their form this season, with State of Origin I just six weeks away.
But Reynolds laid on three tries in the round-seven clash to snap a two-game losing streak for the injury and suspension-hit Dogs, with Hodkinson playing an improved support role.
The pair combined brilliantly for a 57th-minute Curtis Rona try that wrested control of the match back to the Bulldogs, after Manly had forged their way to the lead for the first time courtesy of a Peta Hiku four-pointer in the 48th minute.
Rona also starred for the home side with a double, taking his tally to eight tries in seven games.
Mbye recorded a a try, a try assist and a line break, and was threatening in attack throughout.
Reynolds was on song right from the start.
After Willie Mason spilt the pill on the first tackle of the game, Reynolds swung a lovely long ball from the scrum re-start for Rona to open the scoring after just 61 seconds.
When Chase Stanley dummied his way over in the seventh minute and Hodkinson converted for a 10-0 lead, it looked like a long night for the embattled Sea Eagles but, to their credit, they fought back strongly.
With Daly Cherry-Evans leading the way for the visitors despite struggling with a knee injury, Manly found themselves just two points down at the break.
DCE collected his own grubber kick after it rebounded off Reynolds to score in the 28th minute and a 40th-minute Jamie Lyon penalty bridged the gap to two points just before the break in front of 13,568 fans.
When Hiku threaded past Stanley, Manly’s first win in six weeks looked possible.
But the Dogs responded strongly through Frank Pritchard four minutes later after a Mbye break, before Rona scored his second in the 57th minute.
When Mbye crossed at the end of a 95m play, the game was all but over.
Corey Thompson’s 78th-minute try blew the score out further.
Manly’s cause wasn’t helped by the pre-game loss of Kieran Foran (hamstring), while Josh Morris (ankle) was a late out for the Dogs.