The fireworks finally exploded in Parramatta as the Eels held on to claim their first 2012 season victory over the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 29-20 at Parramatta Stadium. Signs not promising in this early part of the season as the reigning premiers fall to their third straight loss.
The home crowd were in voice for majority of the game which gave them an edge over the visitors.
Ben Roberts on his game as he fired a pin-point kick into the in-goal area to set up Jarryd Hayne for the first points of the evening. The Manly’s defence cracked to leak a try after five minutes, Sandow nailed the kick, Eels 6-0.
However a turn in possession stopped the celebrations with Manly on the board after 14 minutes as Brett Stewart found himself on the end of a Steve Matai kick. Daly Cherry-Evans didn’t have a wonderful night with his boot but the first attempt successful, 6-all.
It didn’t take long for the Eels to hit back with more points as Matt Keating close to the line wasn’t going to be stopped. Parramatta made the Manly side pay for the gifted field position after a penalty. Sandow’s conversion made it 12-6 after 21 minutes.
The uncharacteristic Eels saw them go back-to-back in their next play to put another four-pointer on their opposition. Young gun Ken Sio strolled his way over the whitewash as the Eels rolled on, 18-6.
A questionable decision against the home side saw the Manly Sea Eagles well on the attack. Anthony Watmough gave the Manly side the set at the line and he played cleaner after Jarryd Hayne coughed up the ball on the line. Eels led 18-10 with five until half time.
Ball possession in our great day is so important in the modern day and Manly used what they had to their strengths. After two consecutive scrum feeds on the Eels 10 metre line, Jorge Taufua helped close the gap to two points. Manly spread it to the winger with quick hands. They capitalised on the Eels mistakes, however still trailed 18-16 after 8 minutes of the second half.
Manly gathered pace as they went in search of the lead and found it. Jamie Buhrer flew through the line at speed to roll over Chris Sandow to score. Cherry-Evans’ conversion attempt met the posts on the full, no goal – Manly claimed the lead 20-18 after 55 minutes.
Robert again crafted his skill to display his wonderful footwork to break into open space. His magic set up Jarryd Hayne with an inside ball through the Manly defence. The Eels back in front with 20 minutes on the clock, 24-20.
Something we haven’t seen in 2012 is the Eels defending a lead at the back end of a game. It was different tonight has it was certainly something special. The Parramatta boys took whatever opportunities they had and made Manly suffer. Chris Sandow nailed a penalty goal in the final minutes to make the gap between them a converted try, 26-20.
Manly remained hopeful with five minutes left in the contest, but Sandow put it beyond doubt with an amazing snap field goal. Eels 27-20 as their confidence rocketed with the lead out to seven points.
The fireworks started to fire with two minutes left as the Eels were awarded a penalty in front of the sticks. One of the Eels stars of the evening, Chris Sandow added the further nail in the coffin for the downed Eagles with a penalty goal. The siren sounded at Parramatta Stadium which saw the home crowd heroes victors 29-20.
Parramatta with greater confidence with their first points of the season will travel north to Hunter Stadium when they are hosted by the Newcastle Knights. While the current premiers after their third straight defeat will finally head home to open Brookvale Oval for the Penrith Panthers.