It what was billed as a huge game to see who would qualify for the NRL grand final and it lived up to the expectation, as the Manly Sea Eagles recorded a come-from-behind win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs, taking out the game 30-20.
The win means that Manly have now made their 4th grand final in the last 7 years, to assert their period of dominance in the NRL, a sign that the team is well and truly equipped to go all the way.
It was 42 years since Souths last reached a decider and they were on their way towards breaking that drought, as they raced out to an early 14-0 lead, with Manly on the ropes at that point in time and Souths had all the ascendancy.
After that, however, it was all one-way traffic, as Manly took the bull by the horns and scored 30 unanswered points to virtually wrap the game up after stellar performances by some of their key players.
The 44,456 strong crowd were vocal and passionate, willing their sides on, as both vied for the chance to make the grand final.
In the end, it was experience that got Manly over the line, as Souths were forced to dwell on another missed opportunity.
For Souths five-eighth John Sutton, it was a moment of disappointment for he and his Souths team.
“It’s tough. I’m devastated,” said Sutton.
Souths coach Michael Maguire echoed similar sentiments but did admit that his side could not deal with the experience of the Manly side.
“We played a very experienced team. A very resilient team,” said Maguire.
“We lost our way at the end of the first half.”
“They’re a tough team and they managed to find their way back into the game.”
Although they would have liked to have made next week’s grand final, Maguire says the loss has made the club stronger as a whole from the fans to the organisation.
“We’re getting stronger as an organisation,” said Maguire.
“We’ve got a club that supports everyone. We stick by each other.”
For Manly, whilst they were pleased to win the game, for coach Geoff Toovey, it means nothing if they cannot win the premiership next week.
“It’s exciting and we’ll all enjoy it, but it doesn’t mean much if we can’t come up with a duck egg at the end of the week.
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