MANLY delivered a stunning 31-18 win against a mistake-riddled Canberra, despite being one man down for the whole second half. Referee Sean Hampstead had little option but to send Sea Eagles backrower Adam Cuthbertson for an early shower when his outstretched arm cannoned into the neck of Raiders’ forward Troy Thompson in the 31st minute at Canberra Stadium. It was a rare Hampstead decision as he went to video referee Paul Simpkins repeatedly in both halves for everything from double movements to forward passes, giving both teams plenty of breathing time in the cold conditions. Manly coach Des Hasler questioned the need for video referees to be involved in send-offs. Hampstead asked Simpkins “are you thinking what I’m thinking” before sending Cuthbertson off. “I could be wrong but I thought on the rabbits ears the referee was asking the fellow in the box what he was thinking,” Hasler said. “The man in the middle’s got to make the decision, he’s got the whistle, leave the video referees out of it because I don’t think he was going to send him off.” Prior to Cuthbertson’s send off Manly had been dominating the game through the boot of skipper Matt Orford. He peppered Raiders winger David Milne with an aerial attack in the opening 20 minutes and soon enough former Canberra junior Michael Robertson grabbed hold of one for the first try of the night. Ace Raiders half Todd Carney stole the momentum for the home side for the first time late in the opening stanza with a 40-20, his third of the season. But the Raiders couldn’t capitalise, with the score 12-0 to Manly at halftime. With a heavy dew settling on the stadium surface in the second half, Canberra had every reason to be hopeful of coming home strongly. And soon enough the halves pair of Carney and Terry Campese were taking advantage of Manly’s bunched defence, swinging the ball from side-to-side. Fullback Bronx Goodwin bombed a certain try early in the half before the Raiders ran in tries to Carney and winger Colin Best. But when Manly centre Steve Matai crashed over the game was beyond Canberra’s reach at 24-12. Orford confirmed the two points for last year’s grand finalists with a field goal and then with less than four minutes to go veteran Steve Menzies made the scoreline barely believable. Hasler heaped praise on his resilient squad. “It was a great response. I’m extremely proud of them.” In the losing sheds, Raiders coach Neil Henry refused to damn his team. “It’s not automatic you win a game when you play against 12 men,” Henry said. “At 18-12 we lost a couple of opportunities to pull back some points. “I’ll take my hat off to Desy and the boys, they didn’t make an error in yardage in the whole game.”

By ricky

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