A late try saw the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles suffer a 24-22 loss to Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at Pointsbet Stadium on Sunday in round six of the NSWRL SG Ball Cup.
It was Manly’s first loss under Coach Brett Fulton in the U19s competition following three wins and a draw.
The Sharks opened the scoring in the fourth minute after second-rower Lawson Cotter pushed off centre Josh Feledy to score out wide. Five-eighth Jake Hay converted for a 6-0 lead.
Manly winger Peter Poulos got his team’s first in the 13th minute after he finished off a fine team try to score in the right corner following a great one-handed offload in a two-man tackle in the left corner by second-rower Dylan Coutts. Half-back Tylor Bunting converted for a 6-all scoreline.
After soaking up some pressure on their own line, the Sea Eagles took the lead after full-back Luke Tucker popped a pass in traffic to Coutts to find open space before offloading a one-handed pass to a flying Feledy to dive over. Bunting converted for a 12-6 lead after 23 minutes.
Six minutes later, Feledy grabbed his second try when a loose pass from five-eighth Latu Fainu was fumbled by Cronulla centre Talanoa Penitani only for Feledy to swoop it to race 25 metres to score in the left corner. Bunting failed to convert the try for a 16-6 lead with the score remaining that way to half-time.
Two minutes after the break, the Sea Eagles crossed again after prop Samuela Fainu offloaded an inside pass to send Tucker over in the corner. Bunting converted for a 22-6 lead.
The Sharks then rallied to put on two tries in four minutes. The first saw Chaz Jarvis score from a floating inside pass from Penitani that came off a chip kick. Hay converted for a 22-12 scoreline.
Cronulla winger Kristian Dixon then raced 80 metres to score after taking an intercept pass from Tucker to score next to the posts. Hay converted for a 22-18 scoreline after 44 minutes.
With both sides throwing everything at each other in attack, Bunting made a trysaving tackle on centre Benjamin Lavender that would have drawn the Sharks level.
Manly were then denied a try after a towering kick by Latu Fainu bounced up for Coutts to find open space to link up with Poulos whose legs took the corner post out as he slid over the line.
The Sea Eagles kept muscling up in defence to keep the Sharks at bay after a number of attacking chances.
However, just when it appeared the Sea Eagles were going to hold on for another win, Lavender stepped and weave several defenders before pushing through Samuela Fainu to score next to the posts. Hay converted for the 24-22 lead three minutes from full-time.
The Sea Eagles will be looking to bounce back when they take on the Victoria Thunderbolts in a home game at Aubrey Keech Reserve, Hinchinbrook, on Saturday, March 26, from 2pm.