Sunday afternoon football returned to Brookvale Oval for first time in 2015 and the Sea Eagles returned for just their third game of the season after six games away from their beloved ‘Fortress’.
They took on a Newcastle Knights side who despite a blistering start to the competition came into the match on the back of four straight defeats. The Sea Eagles at the opposite end of the spectrum were trying to recover from early season blues, however a win against the Storm in round eight had brought back much needed confidence.
The Sea Eagles welcomed back Jamie Lyon, Feleti Mateo and Josh Starling from injury. Mateo and Starling started on the bench moving Blake Leary to five eighth to replace the injured Kieran Foran (hamstring).
It was bad news for the visitors before kick off with Jarrod Mullen being pulled from the side.
Its was a tight opening 10 minutes with both sides having single breaks up the middle, Tyler Randell and Jake Trbojevic both broke into the backfield for their respective teams.
Manly opened the scoring in the 19th minute through winger Jorge Taufua in a sweeping backline move. Lyon converted from out wide for a 6-0 lead.
It didn’t take long for Manly to find another. In a set that should have never come to anything, Daly Cherry-Evans produced a brilliant teasing run and fed a deaf ball to his centre Peta Hiku. The Kiwi international then weaved his way closer to the line and then opted to grubber towards goal with a Snake lying in wait. The Prince of Brookvale, Brett Stewart beat speedster Akuila Uate to the ball scoring his historic 150th career try.
Jamie Lyon easily dealt with his conversion attempt and the Sea Eagles had a 12 points lead.
However, the Novocastrians nearly had the prefect response. Finding space down the left side James McManus pinned the ears back and drove towards the corner. But the winger was unable to get there as he was thwarted by a brilliant Stewart tackle and on review it was confirmed that the Knights winger’s foot had been dragged out of play.
Newcastle was then cruelly denied again when, Dane Gagai crossed in the most peculiar of ways. The centre kicked to himself then again back heeled the ball towards the line before grounding the ball in goal. Yet, the video referee over turned the on field decision when it appeared that the ball had hit the ground before his foot touched it.
Manly then produced a 12-point turn around. McManus misfielded Jamie Lyon’s grubber kick with a poor foot control, which saw the ball spin out of play giving Manly the perfect opportunity to extend their lead taking their chance with aplomb. Ligi Sao strolled over from close range when running on to a perfect short ball. It was the forward’s first try in the NRL and one that turned out to be a real sucker punch for Newcastle.
Jamie Lyon made no mistake from the kick and Manly ran back to the sheds with an assertive 18-0 lead.
It didn’t take long for the second half to produce points and this time it was the Knights who got themselves on the board. Continuing to have good fortune down the left side, James McManus found himself in a similar position to where he was denied in the first half. This time however, the former origin winger would not be stopped crossing over after desperate efforts from Stewart.
Tyrone Robert’s then sliced his attempted kick just wide and the Sea Eagles lead was down to 14.
The second half paced intensified as the Knights pressed for another try. Manly allowed them ball on numerous of occasions with errors inside their own half. But the Knights were unable to break down a resilient Sea Eagles defence as the Northern Beaches outfit saw off the growing pressure.
Again Manly looked to their star man Cherry-Evans to get them out of trouble and he produced a fabulous forty twenty. The Silvertails then showed how to use strong field position to their advantaged and Brett Stewart was to quick and to dangerous in open space when he crossed for his second of the evening.
The Manly faithful were enjoying Lyon’s boot back in the team with the skipper knocking over another conversion to stretch Manly’s lead to 24-4 with just over 20 minutes remaining.
Newcaslte searched for a response and it looked like the men from the Hunter had found their answer when Roberts bomb came off Stewart into Jeremy Smith who then offloaded to his skipper Kurt Gidley who scurried his way over. But again the video referee was on hand to deny the Knights as the replay showed that there was a knock on by a Newcastle player.
Manly then applied another 12-point turnaround. Off the back of a penalty the Sea Eagles slick passing opened up the Newcastle defence allowing Cherry-Evans to cross and put the game beyond doubt.
Jamie Lyon slotted his fifth successive conversion and Manly had a 26-point lead.
Newcastle wouldn’t go down without a fight though and this time they made good field position count when Tariq Sims crossed from close range in the 73rd minute. Roberts slotted his first kick of the match and the score was reduced to 30-10.
In the end it was only consolation for the Knights who were victim to a relentless Manly team enjoying a welcome home party.
The game ended 30-10 with the Sea Eagles recording back to back wins for the first time in 2015.