A last minute try has seen the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles record a 30-25 win over the Victoria Thunderbolts at Lottoland today in round five of the Jersey Flegg Cup.
In what was a sloppy game with both sides producing a handful of errors throughout the 70 minutes, Manly appeared to be facing another defeat for the season after a field goal with three minutes to play.
However, a throw of the dice short kick off saw Manly snatch victory in the final minute through a try to Tuaimalo Vaega.
The Thunderbolts were unlucky not to strike first with their early set in Manly’s territory resulting in a drop ball when centre Antonio Sanele attempted to ground the ball.
Sea Eagles centre Jonah Palota-Kopa was forced from the field early on with a suspected knee injury. Both teams opened the match with a fair few handling errors and were unable to hold onto the ball.
Halfback Lewis Habkouk grabbed the first try of the match for the Thunderbolts in the fourth minute after he snuck out of a tackle and stepped past the Sea Eagles’ fullback Flynn Angles-Corke to score under the posts. Five-eighth Jonah Pezet converted to make the score 6-0.
The Sea Eagles bounced back in the 11th minute when forward Jacob Sykes ran a ball hard at the line off his halfback Zane Harris to find a gap and dive over next to the posts. Harris converted to level the match at 6-all.
Manly had another try in quick succession two minutes later with winger Raymond Tuamalo Vaega breaking down the sideline and faking the full-back with a dummy to score. Harris converted to give his side a 12-6 lead.
The Thunderbolts almost got themselves back into the game on two occasions, with winger Adam Naitoko being taken over the sideline by some last-ditch effort from Manly in the 21st minute.
Manly scored their third try in the 30th minute when Angles-Corke dived over. Second-rower Zac Fulton ran at the line and carried two defenders with him, leaving a gap. Fulton offloaded to the speedy fullback who scored. Harris converted to extend Manly's lead to 18-6.
Thunderbolts winger scored Brandon Saena scored a minute from half-time after some quick hands from winger Antonio Sanele. In the process of grounding the ball, a Manly player came in late and fouled the try scorer, resulting in a penalty try and two conversion kicks. Pezet kicked both goals for an 18-14 scoreline at half-time.
The Thunderbolts scored in the 43rd minute through Saena for his second of the match. Manly winger Keegan Turner had the ball near the sideline and was being taken out, so chose to throw it back infield. Saena kicked the ball and regathered it before running in for a try. Pezet converted to bring the score to 20-18 in favour of the Thunderbolts.
Six minutes later, Manly lock Faleata Iosefa broke through a handful of defenders with a strong run and jumped over fullback Sualauvi Faalogo’s tackle attempt to score, giving his side the lead again. Harris converted the try to make the score 24-20.
Faalogo scored in the 55th minute for the Thunderbolts in what had now become a back-and-forth battle, with both sides scoring to take the lead on separate occasions. The fullback scored down the left edge, with Pezet missing the conversion from the sideline for a 24-all scoreline.
The Sea Eagles and the Thunderbolts each continued to make silly mistakes, dropping the ball on multiple occasions, and turning it over, scuppering their chances to grab the win.
Thunderbolts prop James Atonio had the ball forced out of his hands 20 metres out from the home side's line, summarising the day and the number of errors.
With three minutes to play, Pezet struck for the Thunderbolts and kicked a field goal from 25 metres out to take a 25-24 lead.
Manly attempted a short kick off from the re-start. At first, it didn’t appear to reach ten metres, but rolled over the sideline, resulting in a feed for the home side.
From the scrum, the Sea Eagles ran the ball hoping to find the line. With a minute and a half to play, Tuaimalo Vaega scored his second try after getting the ball from Iosefa. He bumped off a defender and dived in the corner, winning the match for Manly. Harris converted as the final whistle blew for the 30-25 scoreline.
The Sea Eagles now host the Parramatta Eels at Lottoland on Saturday, April 17, at 3pm.