The Sea Eagles NSW Cup side was unlucky to go down to a resilient Mounties side on Easter Sunday, in what was an entertaining match from start to finish.
It was the first time in 2015 that many would have seen the reserve grade sides play with the match televised on pay-tv, and despite the result, they could be pleased with what they saw.
It was a dream start for Mounties, with the demoted Canberra half Mitch Cornish crossing inside the first five minutes but unable to convert his opening try.
The game began to settle with both sides sharing in even possession, however it was up to Jack Littlejohn to swing the momentum in the Sea Eagles favour with a fortunate kick landing in the hands of winger Ben Fritz who sailed over for Manly’s first. Kurt Aldridge converted to put the team ahead 6-4 after 15 minutes.
The Silvertails continued to mount on the pressure and their determination soon paid off with Tyson Andrews, looking likely to be held, outstretching his arm to plant the ball down for the side’s second of the afternoon. Aldridge added the extras.
Mounties attempted to hit back out-wide, but a break down the sideline was thwarted by a determined Luke Garner, who managed to chase down his opponent and drag him into touch and save a certain try.
Uiti Baker then stormed through the Mounties defence with a try under the posts to put the Sea Eagles in a commanding position late on in the first half.
However, some lapses in concentration from the Sea Eagles forced an error from the kick off which allowed Mounties to regain possession and they took full advantage when Mitchell Cronin pounced to reduce the deficit. This was further combusted, when Kurt Baptise crossed shortly after with the Sea Eagles only just managing to hold on to an 18-16 halftime lead.
The halftime lead was short lived, as Mounties winger Gus Aiga was able to burst along the sideline and over to score and give Mounties the lead less than five minutes into the second period.
The Sea Eagles were quick to respond and less than three minutes later Dom Reardon notched up a try after some great link up play between Jordan Latham and Dylan Kelly. Aldridge was on hand to convert for Manly.
After some heavy possession from the Sea Eagles, Mounties were able to hit the lead again as Gus Aiga was proving to be a handful for the Manly side as he crossed from out wide again to swing the game back into the Canberra feeder side.
For the remainder of the 2nd half the Mounties withstood a determined Manly side to take back the lead by halting attack after attack. Prop Luke Page was causing headaches for the Sea Eagles and the Canberra feeder club was able to hold on as they recorded a 26-24 victory.
Luke Williamson’s men will be looking to put things right next week when they take on the Penrith Panthers next Saturday at 5.15pm at Pepper Stadium.