A committed defensive effort lifted the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles to their first victory of the season in the NSWRL Harold Matthews Cup on Sunday.
The Sea Eagles produced a stunning 18-10 upset win over Cronulla-Sutherland at Pointsbet Stadium in round six to end the Sharks’ undefeated run.
It was a well-deserved victory for Coach Alex Moore and his team who have been edging closer to their first win following two losses and a draw.
The Sea Eagles defence was on song early after a number of attacking raids in the opening two minutes by the Sharks. Manly winger Calvin Levy pulled off a trysaving tackle when he took opposite winger Nicholas Pantelis into touch in the second minute.
Manly were awarded for their fine defensive efforts when they came up with some fine attacking play that saw captain and full-back Lehi Hopoate almost score in the sixth minute.
A minute later, the Sea Eagles were not to be denied when lock Rene Bagon ran strongly off a pass from hooker Jake Fulton to carry three defenders over the line to score. Half-back Jackson Cahill-Smith converted for a 6-0 lead.
Ten minutes later, the Sea Eagles were in for their second try after centre Maxwell Taotua stepped and weave his way from a dummy half run to score in the corner. Cahill-Smith’s conversion from the sideline hit the left post and bounced over to give Manly a 12-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Manly’s defence again stood firm in the remaining 10 minutes before half-time with Taotua and five-eighth William Quinn combing to stop Sharks second-rower Jasper Catton from scoring in the corner.
The Sea Eagles extended on their 12-0 lead at half-time when Hopoate beat two defenders to burrow his way over the line out wide six minutes after the break. Cahill-Smith converted for an 18-0 lead after 36 minutes.
The Sharks then hit back with two tries in 10 minutes. The first came through five-eighth Ashton Simmonds after he produced a show and go to stretch out with his left arm to score under the posts. Captain and full-back Chevy Stewart converted for an 18-6 scoreline after 44 minutes.
Stewart then crossed the line himself when he ran off half-back Bryce Sait to slice his way past two defenders to score in the corner. He failed to convert his own try to leave the Sharks trailing 18-10.
The Sea Eagles dug deep in the final minutes to repel further Shark raids with team-mates embracing each other in sheer jubilation after the full-time siren.
Manly now play the Central Coast Roosters in a home game at Aubrey Keech Reserve, Hinchinbrook, on Saturday, March 26, at 12.30pm.