Manly Warringah Sea Eagles recorded a 26-24 victory over Parramatta Eels in the Harold Matthews Cup Qualifying Final at Lottoland today.
The Eels finished the regular season in second place with Manly finishing third. Both sides produced a cracker of a match.
Parramatta opened the scoring in the sixth minute when full-back Joshua Tuipulotu got on the outside of the defence to race 40 metres to score. The try was converted for a 6-0 lead.
The Sea Eagles hit back with a try in the 11th minute when prop James Uesele second-rower Siosiua Fotu used his strength to crash over near the posts. Tapu Tuipulotu converted the try for a 6-all scoreline.
Three minutes later, the Eels full-back slammed the ball down out wide to score his second try for a 10-6 lead.
Parramatta went to a 14-6 lead in the 19th minute when the Sea Eagles fell for a dummy from half-back Jakob Arthur from a scrum win to score. The try was not converted.
Manly hit back when Fotu replicated his first try to crash over out wide. The try was converted to leave the Sea Eagles trailing 14-12.
The Sea Eagles took a 16-14 lead into half-time when hooker Gordon Chan Kum Tong scored from dummy half. Tuipulotu missed the conversion attempt.
Manly extended the lead to 20-14 in the 44th minute when Seturi Iakopo put the ball down after a good offload under pressure by winger Cameron Brown. Tuipulotu missed the conversion attempt.
Parramatta got back to 20-all with 12 minutes remaining through a converted try to prop Peter Taateo.
The Eels were denied a try four minutes later through a double movement call by the referee.
Manly regained the lead with four minutes remaining when full-back Tolu Koula pushed off several defenders in a slicing run to score next to the posts. Tuipulotu converted for a 26-20 lead.
The Eels hit back just before the siren to score through winger Simon Tito after the Sea Eagles fell asleep when playing the ball to give Parramatta one last shot. The try was not converted after the siren.
Manly will now play in the preliminary final in two weeks time.
1 Tolu Koula 2 Cameron Brown 13 Toni Mataele 18 Seturi Iakopo, 4 Tapu Tuipulotu, 6 Kaeo Weekes 3 Tony Francis, 8 Tyreece Matangi, 9 Gordon Chan Kum Tong, 10 James Uesele, 11 Samuel Pinomi (C), 12 Siosiua Fotu, 13 Israel Ahofono, interchange: 15 Marley Hunter, 17 Darcy Hoy, 21 Logan Fox, 25 Jai Vakai