A try two minutes from full-time to winger Luke Tucker has seen the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles snatch a 20-18 victory over the Canberra Raiders in round one of the SG Ball competition today.
The match in Belconnen marked the first clash between the two clubs since the Raiders knocked out the Sea Eagles in the SG Ball Cup preliminary final last season.
The Sea Eagles threatened early in attack down the left side through centre Josh Feledy and five-eighth Latu Fainu, who both have stepped up from last year’s undefeated premiership winning Harold Matthews Cup team.
Manly were held up twice over the line, the first after a barnstorming run from prop Caleb Navale, and the second following a 30 metre run by Feledy after he beat several defenders.
The Raiders opened the scoring through a try to hooker Stan Iongi after he burrowed his way through the defence after Manly conceded a penalty. Half-back Blake Metcalfe converted for a 6-0 lead after 16 minutes.
The Sea Eagles finally crossed the line after giant second-rower Samuela Fainu pounced on a grubber kick from half-back Tylor Bunting to score. Bunting converted for a 6-all scoreline after 23 minutes.
The Raiders went to a 10-6 lead when prop Taulauniuotagaloa Mariota used his strength from 10 metres out to crash through two defenders to score three minutes from half-time. Metcalfe converted for a 12-6 lead at half-time.
A great run down the left hand side saw Feledy beat four defenders to crash his way over in the corner for a 12-10 scoreline after 42 minutes. Bunting failed to convert from the sideline.
A strong run down the left edge by Canberra second-rower Thomas Carey saw five-eighth Calab Edwards race away untouched to score. Metcalfe converted for an 18-10 lead with 20 minutes remaining.
Manly hit back three minutes later when Feledy grabbed his second try off a great break by full-back Charlie Thompson. Bunting converted from the sideline to leave the Sea Eagles trailing 18-16 with 16 minutes remaining.
With the clock counting down, the Sea Eagles chanced their luck inside the final two minutes. Some nice quick hands saw Manly spread the ball right through Eli Sagala and Samuela Fainu for Luke Tucker to dive over in the right corner to score for a 20-18 lead. Bunting missed the conversion.