Manly Warringah Sea Eagles are into the 2017 Holden Cup Grand Final following a gritty 34-18 victory over St George-Illawarra Dragons at Allianz Stadium today.
The Sea Eagles finished the regular season in eighth place but Coach Wayne Lambkin and his talented young players have beaten the fifth-placed North Queensland Cowboys, minor premiers Cronulla Sharks, and now the third placed Dragons.
Manly will play either Parramatta or Penrith in the Grand Final at ANZ Stadium next Sunday, October 1.
The Sea Eagles opened the scoring when a nice short pass from half-back Cade Cust saw lock Haumole Olakauátu score next to the posts. Centre Tevita Funa converted for a 6-0 lead after 19 minutes.
A minute later, a break down the left flank by Manly saw Funa put a kick through for the ball to sit up nicely for full-back Jade Anderson to score. Funa converted for a 12-0 lead after 21 minutes.
The Dragons hit back when second-rower Trent Peoples crashes through two defenders from five metres out to score. Centre Reuben Garrick converted to leave the Dragons trailing 12-6 after 29 minutes.
Olakauátu crossed for his second try when Cust broke a tackle to send his lock over. Funa converted for an 18-6 lead after 35 minutes. The score remained that way at half-time.
The Dragons got back to 18-10 when five-eighth Joe Lovodua scored next to the posts after a kick through had hit the leg of a Manly player. Jackson Willis converted the try for an 18-12 scoreline after 46 minutes.
St George-Illawarra then scored a try through centre Jackson Ford from a kick through by Jackson Willis. Willis converted the try for an 18-all scoreline with 20 minutes.
Olakauátu scored his third try off a superb one handed pass to score. Funa converted to give Manly a 24-18 lead after 71 minutes.
Cust then took on the line to beat two defenders to slam the ball down to score for a 28-18 lead with three minutes to go.
Victory was sealed when Cust scored off his own short grubber kick in the final minute. Funa convertes for the 34-18 scoreline.
Sea Eagles Holden Cup team
1 Jade Anderson 2 Alfred Smalley 3 Tevita Funa 4 Semisi Kioa 5 Bilal Maarbani 6 Tom Wright 7 Cade Cust 8 Jaiden Tarrant 9 Manase Fainu (C) 10 Elia Faatui 11 Blake Andrews 12 Josh Martin 13 Haumole Olakauátu; Interchange: 14 Kurtis Preece, 15 Jesse Martin, 19 Keith Titmuss, 21 Joseph Ma'u