While both sides fielded young lineups, both coaches injected their key players in at various stages. Much has been said about the void left by Matt Orford, but veteran Jamie Lyon stepped in the fray and took control at various stages – which is a good sign for the Sea Eagles early in 2010.
Torrential rain was the order of the night at Toyota Park, with both camps frustrated they weren’t able to put on a free flowing game in which combination’s could be fully tested.
Kiwi rising star Keiran Foran partnered youngster Trent Hodkinson in the halves at various stages, but it was Lyon who handled most and took control of the kicking and playmaking responsibilities during his 40 minutes in the game.
Lyon setup a nice try just after halftime, the former centre three quarter tried a short kick, only to have it bounce off a Sharks player and back into his arms, then Lyon flicking a quick pass out the back to Glenn Stewart, who setup big Tony Williams for the try in the corner.
Both sides threw youngsters into the fray in the first half, and tested players in various positions. But in the second stanza, more of the big guns came into play.
Brett Stewart got his chance in the final quarter, with some confident touches of the ball. Stewart had some good carries and set tempers flaring, after the fullback was tackled into the posts – his teammates soon stepping in to lend a hand.
Stewart defused a Barrett bomb, but was crash tackled back into his own goal posts. With both teams coming together for a bit of push and shove.
Soon after, things tipped over the edge – with Cronulla bookend Kade Snowden letting some haymakers rip at Jason King after a play-the-ball. With both Snowden and King eventually being binned for the flare up.
Manly adjusted to the muddy conditions better than Cronulla, and the result reflected their versatility.
Overall, despite the rain soaked conditions the Eagles would have been happy with the first hit-out. But for Cronulla it was filled with frustration, as they couldn’t get their handling right and in addition, there was the possible season-ending injury to 19-year-old Engadine junior Mills, who fell awkwardly as he surged towards the line in the 15th minute