ROUND 9 WRAP
by Jackson Kelly
HAROLD MATTHEWS - Round 9
Sea Eagles v North Sydney Bears
After registering only one win in 2013, the junior Sea Eagles in the Harold Matthews competition were determined to finish off on a high note with their final chance to impress at Brookvale Oval against traditional rivals, the North Sydney Bears.
The strong start they were looking for was annihilated when big John Solia from the Bears barged his was over in just the second minute. The try was converted by Wayde Egan for a 6 – 0 lead.
Not long after however back-rower Heath Garay found himself out wider than usual to get the Sea Eagles on the board.
Garay was soon in the play again, this time making a half break and shoveling the ball back on the inside to five-eighth Dan England who claimed the try and the lead for Manly 8 points to 6.
This score would remain intact until one minute after the half time break when fullback Ben Woollett supported a well-made break from Dan England to score in the corner.
After missing his first two conversion attempts, it appeared Woollett had handed the duties over to interchange hooker Caleb Hanley, whose first assignment from the sideline proved too difficult, keeping the score at 12 – 6.
One of Manly’s most consistent performers all year, Clint Maguire increased their lead in the 40th minute when he hit a gaping hole in the defence to score under the posts.
Norths needed to hit back and did with 15 minutes remaining through Mark Laban who burrowed his way to the line.
His efforts were offset when a wayward pass from England was pounced upon by Maguire who put winger Jesse Maxwell over in the corner to take their lead to 22 – 12.
The game wasn’t over there however, as the Bears managed another close-range try, this time through Max King who brought the score to 22 – 18.
Off the ensuing kick-off, an innovative Hail Mary play saw a Norths player attempt a 40/20 immediately after he retrieved the kick-off. Fortunately for Manly, and unfortunately for North Sydney, the touch judge – who had a tough call from over thirty metres away – raised his flag 21m from Manly’s defensive line, securing the victory for the youngsters.
Although the win meant nothing for their finals chances, it gave the Manly Harold Matthews boys a much-deserved reward for their efforts on the day and throughout the season.
MANLY WARRINGAH SEA EAGLES (TRIES: Garay, England, Woollett, Maguire, Maxwell/ GOALS: Woollett 0/2, Hanley 1/2, England 0/1)
NORTH SYDNEY BEARS (TRIES: Solia, Laban, King/ GOALS: Egan 3/3)
SG BALL - Round 9
Sea Eagles v North Sydney Bears
It’s never an easy task heading into your last game of the season under the knowledge that your finals chances have come and gone. Manly’s SG Ball side took on the North Sydney Bears with this in the back of their minds and as a result, turned in a strong performance to finish the season with a victory.
Minutes prior to kick-off, a short but torrential downpour ensured a slippery start to the game which saw many errors and penalties in the first eight minutes.
Second-rower Liam Knight broke the deadlock in the 9th when be carried defenders over the line to open the scoring.
He scored again in Manly’s very next attacking set when hooker TJ McLean made a smart move down the short-side to set him up in the corner.
Knight achieved a feat hardly ever seen on the footy field, claiming a hat-trick of tries in the opening fifteen minutes when McLean combined with him again, throwing an epic long ball from near the posts for Knight once again to cross over on the left-hand side of the field.
In the final ten minutes of the half, error upon error from the Sea Eagles gave the Bears all the ball leading into the break. However, the Bears could only manage a single try through big interchange forward Fabian Dudley who barged over the line from close-range to put Norths on the scoreboard for a 16 – 4 lead to Manly.
A poor start from both sides in the second half culminated in a sloppy pass from Manly lock Dallas Koen which found North’s winger Niko Fiapileniko who sprinted 40m to score untouched, bringing the bears to within a converted try.
It didn’t take long for Manly to hit back once again through - you guessed it - Liam Knight who claimed his 4th try for the afternoon. Knight converted his own try to take the score line to 22 – 10.
After consecutive penalties against the bears, the referee’s patience was clearly wearing thin. So a blatant shoulder charge from Bear’s prop-forward Jordan Winterburn saw him sent to the bin for the remainder of the match.
Surprisingly, it didn’t appear to phase the Bears who crossed not long after through Fiapileniko who got his second out wide, bringing the Bears once again to within a converted try.
Manly coach Dane Mckay had a nervous final five minutes with his players defending set on set on their own line after making three errors and giving away three penalties within their own half.
In the end, the Bears couldn’t manage a try. A chivalrous performance from Knight – who scored every point for the Sea Eagles – proved the difference in the end, with the Manly Sea Eagles finishing their season on a positive note with a solid performance and a victory.
MANLY SEA EAGLES (TRIES: Knight 4/ GOALS: Knight 3/4)
NORTH SYDNEY BEARS (TRIES: Dudley, Fiapileniko 2/ GOALS: McWilliam 2/3)