Manly Warringah Sea Eagles suffered a 32-16 loss to the Parramatta Eels tonight at Bankwest Stadium in round 25 of the Telstra Premiership.
In front of a crowd of 25,034, the fifth-placed Sea Eagles went into the match two competition points clear of the sixth-placed Eels and with a 22 points differential on for and against, meaning Parramatta had to win by more than 12 points to overtake Manly.
The Sea Eagles have now finished the regular season in sixth place ahead of the finals next weekend.
The match marked the NRL debut of young prop Sean Keppie for Manly after he came up through the Parramatta junior ranks. It was also the first game of the season in first grade for Manly prop Lloyd Perrett after he was called into the team for the injured Morgan Boyle.
The Eels opened the scoring in the fourth minute when centre Michael Jennings crossed after winger Maika Sivo ran over the top of Brendan Elliot and Rueben Garrick to score. Mitchell Moses converted for a 6-0 lead.
Three minutes later, the Eels were in again after full-back and captain Clint Gutherson backed up a break down the right flank by centre Waqa Blake. Moses converted for a 12-0 lead after nine minutes.
The Sea Eagles’ first real attacking chance came in the 18th minute when half-back and captain Daly Cherry-Evans found open space to kick ahead for the ball to land in-goal with the Eels knocking it dead.
Moses kicked a penalty goal from 22 metres out in front of the posts to stretch the Eels’ lead to 14-0 after 22 minutes.
Manly centre Moses Suli then prevented another Eels try when he managed to get his arms under the ball after it was stripped off him by Parramatta second-rower Shaun Lane in the 28th minute.
Two minutes later, the Sea Eagles managed to hold up Sivo in the left corner.
The Sea Eagles bombed a tryscoring opportunity five minutes before half-time when winger Jorge Taufua dropped the ball after centre Brad Parker defused a towering bomb from Manly half-back and captain Daly Cherry-Evans.
Manly got on the board after the half-time siren to trail 14-2 at the break after Garrick converted a penalty goal from next to the posts after the Eels were caught offside from a drop ball by Blake Ferguson.
Moses converted a penalty goal three minutes after half-time for a 16-2 lead before Manly prop Martin Taupau was placed on report for a high tackle on Ray Stone a minute later. Stone left the field as did Taupau after being sent to the sin bin as well. Moses converted a penalty goal from in front for an 18-2 lead after 46 minutes.
The Sea Eagles reduced the margin to 18-8 two minutes later when hooker Manase Fainu burrowed his way over under the posts. Garrick converted the try.
Parramatta extended their lead again when Sivo scored in the 53rd minute from a short grubber kick. Moses failed to convert the try for a 22-8 lead.
Fainu grabbed his second two minutes later after the video referee ruled Parramatta had stripped the ball in a tackle on Taupau and Fainu did not knock on in picking up the ball. Garrick converted for a 22-14 scoreline.
Garrick converted a penalty goal in front of the posts for a 22-16 scoreline with 14 minutes remaining.
Parramatta prop Kane Evans was placed on report and sent to the sin bin with 12 minutes remaining after a shoulder hit on Parker that saw him leave the field.
The Eels went to a 26-16 lead with eight minutes remaining when Sivo scored his second try. Moses failed to convert the try.
Sivo finished off the scoring when he crashed over in the 79th minute to claim his hat-trick. Moses converted for the 32-16 scoreline.