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Bulldogs down Manly in NRL, outsiders Cronulla shock the Roosters

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SYDNEY - Captain Michael Ennis kicked a field goal and scored a last-minute try to give the Bulldogs a 23-16 win over Manly which hoisted them onto an equal footing with the Sea Eagles near the top the National Rugby League after the weekend's 17th round.

The teams were locked at 16-16 with five minutes remaining before Ennis' one-pointer put his team ahead. His 80th-minute try sealed the Bulldogs' 10th win of the season, bringing them level with Manly on the table.

Penrith joined Manly and the Bulldogs atop the standings on 24 points, but ahead on points differential, after its 26-10 victory over Wests on Sunday.

Cronulla pulled off a brilliant second-half comeback for the second straight week to beat the Sydney Roosters 30-28, dropping the Roosters back to fifth place. After coming back from 22-0 to beat Brisbane 24-22 eight days ago, the Sharks rallied from 24-0 down to win with two tries to Jacob Gagan and a match-winner to Jeff Robson.

Former Kiwis captain Benji Marshall guided St. George Illawarra to a 27-24 win over North Queensland, helping to set up a hat trick of tries to Jason Nightingale and the Dragons' third straight win.

Bulldogs coach Des Hasler said his team showed toughness in eeking out a win over first-place Manly during the State of Origin period.

"Given the circumstances, what we went into the game with, the number of players we have to come back, and the number of players that were out injured, I was pretty pleased to get the points," Hasler said.

"I was pretty proud of their efforts, particularly with the way the competition is and how tight it is."

Manly coach Geoff Toovey said his team's performance was one of its most disappointing this season.

"We were lucky to be in the contest tonight and we could have snatched it but we were just flat," he said. "Coming down last week after a very solid performance against the Roosters, maybe there was a lull there."

Coachless Cronulla, rated 15-1 outsiders by the bookmakers, overcame the distraction caused by the midweek sacking of star Todd Carney and the resignation of coach Peter Sharp, to down the reigning premiers with the biggest comeback in their 47-year history.

Halfback Robson scored three minutes from fulltime to tie the scores and fullback Michael Gordon slotted the conversion to clinch the win for the Sharks, who trailed 24-0 after only 30 minutes.

"I saw some odds in the paper. What were we, 50 to one or something?" stand-in captain Wade Graham asked. "It was ridiculous. No one gave us a hope.

"The funny thing about rugby league players is that most of them have a little bit of attitude and, if you write them off, they like to step up to the mark and say I told you so."

The round, shortened by the State of Origin match on Wednesday, concludes with Monday's between Souths and Gold Coast.

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