Manly Warringah Sea Eagles recorded a superb 30-16 victory over the North Queensland Cowboys at Allianz Stadium today in the Holden Cup elimination final.
The Cowboys finished the regular season in fifth place with Manly in eighth place. The Sea Eagles went into the game missing inspirational captain and lock Jesse Martin through a two game suspension, and towering prop Taniela Paseka with a knee injury.
Nth Qld Cowboys opened the scoring in the 20th minute when half-back Jake Clifford took the line on to score next to the posts. He converted his own try for a 6-0 lead after 21 minutes.
Manly scored their first try when five-eighth Tom Wright got on the outside of centre Enari Tualu to score. Centre Tevita Funa converted for a 6-all scoreline after 29 minutes.
A minute later, a nice short pass from Cade Cust saw lock Haumole Olakau’atu beat two defenders to score. Funa converted for a 12-6 lead.
Manly measured up in defence in the final minute of the first half to keep the Cowboys at bay on their line for a 12-6 lead at half-time.
The Cowboys reduced the margin to two when a grubber kick from Kayln Ponga saw winger Murray Taulagi score in the corner for a 12-10 scoreline. The try was not converted.
Manly extended the lead to four when Funa scored off a Cust crossfield kick that saw Cowboys winger Michael Carroll miss the ball completely for a 16-10 scoreline after 54 minutes.
Cust delivered another well executed kick into the corner for Carroll to again lose sight of the ball for winger Bilal Maarbani to score for a 20-10 lead after 61 minutes.
Classy Manly hooker Manase Fainu then found open space from a break from dummy half to send Funa over for a try next to the posts. Funa converted for a 26-10 lead after 65 minutes.
Three minutes later, Manly fell for a dummy from Cowboys captain and five-eighth Mitch Dunn in front of their posts. Clifford converted for a 26-16 scoreline.
The Sea Eagles secured victory when back-rower Blake Andrews took a chip kick on his 40m line to race downfield to score for the 30-16 scoreline.
Manly will play the loser of the Cronulla (1) v Parramatta (4) match.