A clutch Daly Cherry-Evans field goal has seen the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles snatch a 19-18 victory over the Canberra Raiders at Suncorp Stadium tonight.
Trailing 12-0 at half-time after a mistake riddled first half from Manly, the Sea Eagles came home strongly to claim victory to currently move into fourth spot on the Telstra Premiership ladder.
The Sea Eagles went into the match without full-back Tom Trbojevic (cheekbone) and centre Brad Parker (concussion). Tevita Funa started at full-back with Moses Suli in the centres.
In Manly’s first set with the ball, Suli stepped up with a phenomenal run whilst carrying three defenders to propel his side forward and into attacking territory. In the Raiders’ opening two sets, they were unable to get out of their own 40 and were forced into deep kicks.
With just over ten minutes played, errors began creeping in and Canberra pushed forward with their first real chance of the match. After gaining possession 30 metres out, they scored the first points on the right side through winger Harley Smith-Shields. Halfback Sam Williams failed for a 4-0 lead.
Sea Eagles second rower Haumole Olakau’atu forced a one-on-one strip to regain the ball inside the opposition's half, but the try scoring chance was ultimately scuppered after a 50/50 contest in the air later on in the set went against them. As they looked ready to defend, they forced an error moments later and got the ball back.
Being given the lifeline, Manly appeared to have levelled the score in the 17th minute with a try after Olakau’atu ran a strong line off half-back Daly Cherry-Evans. Before being able to celebrate, the try was reviewed and the decision was unfortunately overturned due to an obstruction call against the side earlier in the play.
The Raiders were awarded a penalty in the 25th minute and rather than continuing their attack, chose to take a shot at goal. Williams just about managed to convert the penalty to extend the lead to 6-0.
Following a mistake in the 32nd minute, Canberra capitalised and scored the second try through winger Bailey Simonsson to extend their lead. Williams made the conversion from the sideline to make the score 12-0.
With two minutes to play before the break, some big runs from the Sea Eagles pushed them upfield through the defence, with a set restart moments earlier helping them in their attack. A smart grubber kick through to the in-goal from Cherry-Evans handed the side one more chance to get some points on the board.
Despite the set inside Canberra’s territory, they scrambled around and were unable to score, with a last ditch kick being defused, thus bringing an end to an error-filled half.
The Sea Eagles came out of the gates flying in the second half, only taking two minutes to rebound through Olakau’atu. The second-rower ran hard off the ruck and spun out of the tackle, beating two defenders to dive over to score.
Suli was influential in the lead up with another massive break in play to get his side in optimal field position. Reuben Garrick, who was named on the wing but played fullback, converted for a 12-6 scoreline.
Centre Morgan Harper stepped up on the fifth tackle with the ball in a dangerous position 20 metres out to strip the ball from the arms of the Raiders player, preventing the side from going two tries ahead again.
The Sea Eagles rushed up to force an error on replacement full-back Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad in his first run of the match and shifted the ball to the right side of the field through a crossfield grubber kick from Cherry-Evans.
Winger Jason Saab batted the ball back to Harper who weaved inside and outside of the defender to eventually wrestle his way over for a try in the 57th minute. Garrick's conversion attempt hit the post and bounced through, bringing the score to 12-all.
Manly’s momentum continued to build, rushing up in defence and forcing another repeat set through five-eighth Kieran Foran, who put the grubber kick through and made the tackle.
Off the set from the drop out, the Sea Eagles hit the lead through interchange forward Curtis Sironen, getting on the end of another smart grubber kick from Cherry-Evans. Garrick converted from next to the posts to take an 18-12 lead with 15 minutes to play.
Manly almost struck again in a matter of moments with a burst of energy from the kick-off. The ball was shifted to the left wing straight away and Tevita Funa, who made his first appearance since Round 12, found himself in space.
Funa put a deep grubber kick through that sat up 20 metres out from the line. Several players had the chance but were unable to get a hold of the ball as it was kicked dead, turning the ball over and ending the excitement for the time being.
With just over five minutes remaining, Garrick assisted lock Jake Trbojevic metres out from the line to prevent Raiders prop Josh Papalii from scoring off a barnstorming run, not the first time for the night that Jake had made a strong one-on-one tackle.
With a minute and a half remaining and in optimal field position, Cherry-Evans slotted the vital field goal from 25 metres out to bring the score to 19-12.
Canberra scored a late try after regathering from the kickoff, with Nicoll-Klokstad supporting Smith-Shields to score. Rapana converted to make the score 19-18.
With seconds remaining, Manly second-rower Josh Schuster gave away a penalty and was sin-binned in the process. Despite having the opportunity, Rapana failed to get any height on his 45m field goal attempt to miss as the siren sounded.
Match Highlights: Raiders v Sea Eagles
Manly now play the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs on Sunday August 29 at 1.50pm, at Moreton Daily Stadium, Redcliffe.