Manly Warringah Sea Eagles withstood a late comeback from the Melbourne Storm to claim a 36-30 victory at 4 Pines Park tonight in round 16 of the Telstra Premiership.
The match saw Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans celebrate his 150th career win in his 275th NRL match, also moving to 599 career points with four converted goals tonight.
It was the first time this season that the Sea Eagles have beaten a top eight team and their fifth win from six games at home.
The victory against the second-placed Storm also ended a six-match losing streak against them.
Reuben Garrick received a very unpleasant 25th birthday present when Storm centre Marion Seve put a bone rattling hit on him from the kick-off.
Melbourne had their first chance in the third minute after a set restart late into the set. On the last tackle ten metres out from the line, centre Morgan Harper wrapped up the attacker with a ball-and-all tackle to turn over possession.
Manly centre Tolutau Koula scored a stunning try in the seventh minute, latching onto a kick 10 metres out from his own line before sprinting 90 metres down field to score in the corner for his second NRL try. Garrick’s conversion attempt bounced off the post for a 4-0 scoreline.
Match Highlights: Sea Eagles v Storm
The Sea Eagles were soaring as the ball was shifted to the left edge. Harper found a gap in the defence and was almost away, unfortunately dropping the ball on the way to the ground as he attempted to pass it to Jason Saab on his outside.
The Storm replied in the 13th minute with a try through winger Nick Meaney after a cut-out pass from full-back Ryan Papenhuyzen. The tryscorer converted from the sideline to give his side a 6-4 lead.
Another chance went astray for the Sea Eagles as a massive overlap developed on the right edge. The ball was shifted quickly and ended in the hands of Koula who wasn’t able to hold onto the ball, turning over possession.
Daly Cherry-Evans stepped up in the 20th minute with a massive 40/20 kick, his third of the season.
With the possession upfield, the Sea Eagles capitalised and scored on the left edge through winger Jason Saab after a cut-out pass from Garrick. Cherry-Evans, filling in for Garrick, converted to give Manly a 10-6 lead.
Three minutes later, the Sea Eagles were over again after winger Christian Tuipulotu chased a Cherry-Evans kick downfield. Melbourne allowed the ball to bounce for the big winger to leap into the air to grab the ball before wrestling away from two defenders to score for a 14-6 lead.
On the cusp of half-time, the Sea Eagles scored again through Saab. The ball was shifted to the left by five-eighth Kieran Foran who found Andrew Davey with the back-rower holding the ball up to give to Saab, who bobbled it before grounding the ball for an 18-6 scoreline at the break.
Melbourne began the second half on wobbly legs after an error and being forced into a kick deep in their own half as the Sea Eagles carried their momentum from the first half, looking for another chance.
Round 16: Post Match Press Conference
Manly scored on the left edge through Harper in the 48th minute after the centre broke free from a tackle and barged over a defender to score. Garrick did well in the lead-up to the try, forcing a drop-out in the previous set after Melbourne attempted to rush the kicker. The try saw the lead extend out to 22-6.
In the set from the kick-off, the Sea Eagles scored again as second-rower Haumole Olakau’atu brushed past three defenders to ground the ball for his 8th try of the season. Earlier in the set, Koula found himself in space and almost broke free of the defence, offloading to Cherry-Evans who settled the tackle. ‘DCE’ converted for a 28-6 scoreline.
In an instant reply, the Storm hit back and scored through Brandon Smith after the lock stripped the ball from the tackle and spun away for the try. Meaney converted from in front to take the score to 28-12 in the 53rd minute.
Four minutes after Melbourne’s try and the Sea Eagles had another as Koula scored his second. Cherry-Evans threw a cut-out pass to the centre, who saw a gap in front of him allowing for an easy, untouched try. Cherry-Evans converted for a 34-12 lead.
Utility Dylan Walker chased hard and dragged the opposition back in the in-goal to force another drop-out. With 16 minutes remaining, second-rower Josh Schuster was injected into the game following his impressive performance for Samoa in which he assisted three tries.
In the 63rd minute, Manly forced another drop-out and the Storm attempted a kick that didn’t pass ten metres. Cherry-Evans elected to take the shot at goal from ten metres out, adding two points to his side’s tally for a 36-12 scoreline.
The Storm scored with just over five minutes to play through forward Nelson Asofa-Solomona to bring the score to 36-16. As the kick attempt approached, Jake Trbojevic received a standing ovation from Manly’s faithful as he ended his stint for the night.
Papenhuyzen scored another try for Melbourne in a matter of minutes as the fullback fooled the defence with a dummy pass. He converted his own try from in front to cut the deficit to 36-22.
For the second successive kick-off, Manly gave away a penalty after kicking the ball out on the foul. Olam scored in the left corner after dragging two defenders with him to take the score to 36-26.
Papenhuyzen scored his second for the night after breaking through a tired defence to bring the score to 36-30 with just seven seconds remaining. The Storm chose not to take a shot at goal.
Round 16: Team Song
Manly kicked off and Melbourne attempted to pull a rabbit from the hat. The ball however ended in the hands of Cherry-Evans who intercepted a pass. The half-back ran down field and placed a grubber kick to the corner of the in-goal, with the tackle being completed and the siren sounding for full-time. The Sea Eagles holding on for a 36-30 win.
Manly's next match is in Round 18 on Saturday July 16, at 5.30pm, at 4 Pines Park, with the side having a bye next week in Round 17.