The Manly Warringah Sea Eagles have defeated Melbourne Storm on Saturday night at Brookvale in their round two clash in front of 10,531 die hard supporters.
Looking to improve dramatically on last weeks results, Manly will feel delighted as the win comes of the back of some harsh criticisms and a crazy week for the Club.
The game started even early on and Manly found themselves in good field position after some aggressive running and good metres off new recruit Willie Mason, who really stepped up his game for his first appearance in Manly colours at Brookvale Oval. However, they were unable to make the position count. Peta Hiku went close when he chased skipper Jamie Lyon’s grubber kick, but he came up short and was unable to ground the ball.
It took a fantastic effort from another new boy Feleti Mateo, to get the Sea Eagles first points on the board. The second rower charged at the Melbourne line with a fiery determination, which allowed him to get away a signature offload to fill in five eight Jamie Buhrer, who scythed a pass to the returning centre Steve Matai to score on his first game of the 2015 season.
Manly were then forced to show their ability in defence and withstood some great Storm pressure with the Big three throwing a few teasing trick plays.
Manly may have felt hard done by after Daly Cherry Evans towering bomb was dropped by Storm fullback Billy Slater, which on field referee Jared Maxwell ruled to have travelled backwards. This allowed the Storm to build momentum around an uneven Manly line and a cut out pass from Billy Slater, found Young Tonumaipea, who raced down the wing to score Melbourne’s first try, which was converted by Cameron Smith out wide.
Slater’s opposite number Brett Stewart found other ways to deal with sky soaring bombs with a double foot control, which bounced favourably in his direction.
A huge hit from Dunamis Lui on Tonumaipea got the crowd up on their feet and showed Manly still had firepower upfront, which had been criticised last week.
Melbourne was then offered the chance to take the lead when Cameron Smith’s dead flat ball found Jesse Bromwich. However, the prop forward allowed the ball to slip from his grasp when grounding the Steeden.
As the first half wore on, the Melbourne Storm worked their way into the game and found themselves camping in Manly’s half. Yet the men from Victoria were greeted with a solid goal line defence and when Manly eventually regained possession, Cherry Evans produced a sublime flick pass to Tom Symonds, splitting the Melbourne defence. The young second rower burst through and then found fullback Brett Stewart who scored under the posts to equal the all time Brookvale try record with Steven Menzies.
Off the back of their sucker punch try Manly stepped up their game and it wasn’t long until they got the third try of the evening. Brilliant lead up work almost produced Brett Stewarts record-breaking try, however the club stalwart juggled the ball in to his grasp before being tackled by Melbourne rival Billy Slater. But Manly composed themselves and Daly Cherry Evans reverse kick was placed brilliantly, allowing interchange player Blake Leary to score his first try for the Sea Eagles.
And, it wasn’t long until the man known as ‘Snake’ broke the Club record. More front row passing split Melbourne open again and the ever-present Cherry Evans found enough space to run straight through the Storm’s defence before releasing his teammate for his 79th try at Brookvale Oval.
Jamie lyon made no mistake from the boot and Manly went into the sheds with a 24-6 lead at half time.
The second half started with awesome pace but no points came off it. Mateo threw the ball around like it was park footy, and the rest of the team followed suit with a string of offloads and flick passes.
The Sea Eagles wanted to improve on their second half energy from lasts weeks efforts against Parramatta and they showed real grit in the first 10 minutes. Jamie Buhrer continued to showed his fitness and energy still existed after returning from injury and his kick chasing really helped the Sea Eagles prevent the Storm from building momentum from the back.
The Storm found themselves on the receiving end from the men upstairs when Dayne Weston was denied for double movement after he ran on to a short ball from Cooper Cronk.
Manly were then again on the back heel when losing the ball in bad field position but showed grit and courage to prevent Ryan Hinchcliffe close to the line forcing him into a mistake.
He who should not be named continued to wow the crowd with some questionable decisions. Geoff Toovey’s expression on the offside ruling against Matt Ballin summed up what everyone was thinking, and the decision lead to Melbourne’s next try, which was scored by five eighth Blake Green.
Marika Koroibete sparked the game back into life when he turned his kick return into an almost 80 metre try. It forced the best out Brett Stewart, who produced a extraordinary tackle to stop the Fijian flyer. However, his break left Manly stretched, and Melbourne switched it to the other side and Will Chambers step inside Matai to reduce the deficit to 24-16.
The game continued to fire up as the game drew closer to the end. The Sea Eagles found increasing motivation through halfback Daly Cherry Evans who danced and weaved his way through Melbourne players.
With the game hanging in the balance Melbourne were always going to send it down to the wire when Blake Green barged over the line for his second try of the night. Cameron Smith converted to make it a two-point game.
Jake Trbojevic came on in the last five minutes for his first top grade game for 2015 and produced a phenomenal display with his first tackle sending his opponent flying backwards, and then pouncing on a loose ball when the Storm looked dangerous.
Manly were then forced into scrambling defence when Melbourne started their last attack on their own 30-metre line. However, they were unable to get far enough down the field and a loose ball was ruled in Manly’s favour and the Sea Eagles saw out a nervy 30 seconds to win the game.
A great performance by the Manly side who will gain a huge boost of confidence after a tumultuous week. For the Storm it’s back to the drawing board, but they should not be disgraced as their second half come back showed the class they have at their disposal.
Manly won the match 24-22 in a game that will be look at as season started for the Northern Beaches Side.