A disappointing first half performance proved costly for the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles in a 20-14 loss to the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at 4 Pines Park today in round 11 of the Telstra Premiership.
On one of the club's biggest days with the traditional Golden Eagles day, the Sea Eagles were very slow out of the blocks against a fast and hungry Sharks side that took a commanding 20-2 lead into half-time.
Manly came out stronger in the second half and despite a late rally, it wasn't to be for the team on a day that saw winger Reuben Garrick play his 100th NRL match.
The day also marked the 50th anniverary of Manly's 1973 Grand Final win over Cronulla. The Sharks also took back home the Steve Rogers Memorial Trophy played for between the two clubs in memory of Rogers, an Immortal of the Cronulla Sharks, who was good friends with Manly Immortal Bob Fulton.
Cronulla struck first through forward Royce Hunt in the sixth minute after he bumped off second-rower Haumole Olakau’atu inside the 10 metre line. Halfback Nicho Hynes converted for an early 6-0 lead.
Manly prop Josh Aloiai was forced from the field in the 18th minute with an arm injury as the Sharks were awarded a penalty for escorting 15 metres out from the line. Hynes converted to add the additional two points.
Cronulla winger Sione Katoa sliced through two defenders to score on the right edge after some quick hands from his centre partner Jesse Ramien. Hynes converted to extend the lead to 14-0 in the 31st minute.
On the stroke of half-time, the Sea Eagles were awarded a penalty on the 30-metre line right by the sideline. Garrick nailed the conversion attempt for a 14-2 scoreline at the break in favour of the Sharks.
Ramien scored for Cronulla in the 47th minute after a line break down the sideline by second-rower Briton Nikora. The latter dragged Trbojevic in and passed to Ramien who ran away to score next to the posts. Hynes converted to take the score to 20-2.
Manly forward Taniela Paseka broke out of a tackle at the halfway mark and got around Sharks fullback Will Kennedy, only to be dragged down 25 metres from the line. The ball shifted to the right and found Koula, who used his quick speed to try and get around the defender, to no avail as he was stopped just short of the tryline.
Koula was denied a certain try in the 62nd minute in favour of a penalty call by the referee for the Sea Eagles. Olakau’atu threw a ball at the line to Koula to send him through and he wrestled to ground the ball, only for the referee to call the play back and award a penalty instead.
Five tackles later on the other side of the field and the Sea Eagles had their second try from Garrick. Tom and Ben Trbojevic combined inside Cronulla’s 10 metre line, with the latter flicking the ball on to send Garrick over for a try. He converted from the sideline for a 20-8 scoreline.
Manly were setting up for a photo finish to the match as hooker Lachlan Croker scored with six and a half minutes remaining. Cherry-Evans stepped past three defenders and created a gap in the defence metres out from the tryline to send Croker through, who was forced to wrestle out of a tackle for the try. Garrick converted from next to the posts to cut the deficit to six points.
As the siren sounded, the Sea Eagles were awarded a penalty at their own 30-metre line gifting them one final chance. A Cherry-Evans bomb was Manly’s last roll of the dice as the players swarmed in. Unfortunately, the Sharks were able to get a hold of the ball first and surrender to a tackle, bringing an end to the match with a final scoreline of 20-14.
Manly travel to Canberra in Round 12 of the NRL Telstra Premiership to face the Raiders on Sunday May 21 at 4.05pm, at GIO Stadium.