The Manly Sea-Eagles have made second spot a fortress now, putting a massive table gap between themselves and the Eels on the NRL table with a thrilling 32-24 win against the Parramatta Eels at a vocal Parramatta Stadium today.
The Eagles scored six tries to four, in a gutsy win that featured a superior 2nd half thrust from the Manly side, with former Eel Jamie Lyon scoring twice in a total of a 4 try second half haul for the Sea Eagles.
Manly flanker Michael Robertson opened the scoring for the visitors in just the third minute, with a precision Matt Orford cross field kick finding the unmarked Robertson to score in the corner.
Sea-Eagles skipper Orford missed with his sideline conversion to leave Manly with an early 4-0 lead.
The visitors extended their lead in the 15th minute through try scoring machine Brett Stewart. Another Orford cut out found Robertson unmarked on the wing, with the flashy winger able to offload back inside for Stewart to dive over in the corner.
Orford again missed from nearly the identical position, keeping the Sea-Eagles 8 points ahead.
Parramatta winger Eric Grothe swung the momentum the Eels way in 18th minute, steamrolling Michael Robertson with a trademark Grothe run – the giant winger then palming off four Manly defenders in a spectacular 40 metre burst.
Rookie Eels winger Krisnan Inu converted from out wide to close the gap to 8-6.
The Eels took the lead in the 28th minute, with a sublime Tim Smith chip giving Ben Smith a mismatch one on one contest in the air against Matt Orford – Ben Smith taking the kick and scoring in one motion. Inu converting for the Eels to lead 12-8.
The Eels were having a good majority of the possession and finally were turning it into points – however it seemed Manly were able to score with much more ease. Touching down whenever the Eagles had a even a sniff of the Manly line. Field position looking the key to winning this game from very early on.
A Manly error gave the Eels prime field position as the possession rate to Parramatta continued to grow, with Eels custodian Jarrad Hayne steping through some lost Sea-Eagles defence to score under the posts in the 32nd minute.
Inu getting the easy conversion from in front to setup an 18-8 lead, the scores remaining the same into the half time break. The score looking certain to change with both sides showing their prowess in attack, and surely Hagan would not have been too confident with only a 10 point lead.
Manly came out of the sheds firing, with two early touchdowns in the second half, with Steve Menzies and Brent Kite going over for scrambling tries to give the Manly Sea Eagles a small 20-18 lead in the 50th minute.
In what was a gripping second forty minutes with both sides going try for try, Eels winger Inu flew into the corner for a converted try in the 55th minute to get the lead back for the Eels and seemingly setting the scene for a local victory, only for Manly to quickly hit back hard three minutes later through a Jamie Lyon try.
It was impossible to tell who would end up on top, the local and vocal crowd seemed certain to roar the Eels home – but a gutsy and defensively sound Eagles outfit refused to budge.
Both sides continuing to unleash some impressive football over the final twenty minutes, with Manly centre Lyon wrapping up the match with his second four pointer in the 72nd minute.
The Eels have to back up quickly and face the strength of the Canterbury Bulldogs at Telstra Stadium next Friday night, while the Sea-Eagles travel to Suncorp Stadium next Sunday to meet the injury ravaged Brisbane Broncos.
Manly Sea-Eagles 32
Tries: Jamie Lyon 2, Michael Robertson, Brett Stewart, Steve Menzies, Brent Kite
Goals: Matt Orford 4
Parramatta Eels 24
Tries: Eric Grothe, Ben Smith, Jarrad Hayne, Krisnan Inu
Goals: Krisnan Inu 4
Brisbane Broncos 30 def Cronulla Sharks 16
BRISBANE Broncos will have to sweat on medical reports on two more players after Tonie Carroll and David Stagg were injured in the 30-16 win over the Sharks at Suncorp Stadium.
With captain Darren Lockyer and Brent Tate both out for the rest of the season and Australia fullback Karmichael Hunt battling to get back for the finals, Brisbane’s depth will be further tested should Carroll (neck/shoulder) or Stagg (ankle) or both be ruled out for extended periods.
Carroll looked in trouble when the medicab came onto the field in the 44th minute.
But after being inspected by the team doctor, he got to his feet and walked to the sideline.
Stagg’s body was twisted backwards in a 57th minute incident in which he tried to save teammate Steve Michael from being pushed into touch.
Brisbane scored five converted tries and always looked in control.
Its goal line defence was outstanding in the first half, especially when they turned up in numbers to drive Sharks winger David Simmons into touch after defending for three sets of six.
Brisbane’s third try to forward Dane Carlaw came off the back of successive crunching tackles from Carroll who twice drove Sharks attackers backwards into the turf.
Tries to winger Michaels in the seventh minute, Corey Parker (ninth minute) and Carlaw (27th minute) gave Brisbane a comfortable 18-4 lead at half-time.
The Sharks’ only first-half points came from a try to speedy replacement Isaac De Gois who cashed in a perfect pass from Adam Dykes to score in the 22nd minute.
De Gois finished with two tries while Dykes scored a try from dummy half in the 69th minute.