A gallant Manly Warringah Sea Eagles fought to the very end in a 28-18 loss to the Newcastle Knights at McDonald Jones Stadium today in round 13 of the Telstra Premiership.
Missing Origin players in full-back Tom Trbojevic and half-back Daly Cherry-Evans and missing several players through injury, the Sea Eagles showed tremendous defensive resolve to keep the Knights scoreless for the first 30 minutes to take a 14-10 lead into half-time.
The match marked the club debut of talented half-back Jakob Arthur after he joined the Sea Eagles from Parramatta last Monday in a midseason transfer.
Newcastle threw plenty in attack at Manly in the opening 10 minutes but the Sea Eagles defence remained strong.
Manly were awarded for their hard work when winger Reuben Garrick found open space after five-eighth Josh Schuster took an intercept pass off Newcastle full-back Kalyn Ponga to score. Garrick converted for a 6-0 lead after 15 minutes.
Garrick extended the lead to 8-0 in the 18th minute after the Knights failed to make 10 metres from a short drop out.
Some great defensive work this time from Manly winger Jason Saab and second-rower Haumole Olakau’atu saw them hold up powerful centre Bradman Best.
Olakauátu was at it again minutes later when he managed to prevent second-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon from scoring on a double movement call in the 23rd minute.
The relentless defensive pressure from the Knights saw the home side finally crack Manly in the 31st minute when winger Greg Marzhew dived over in the corner for an 8-4 scoreline.
Three minutes later, Best finished off a break down Manly’s right edge to score out wide. Jackson Hastings converted for a 10-8 lead.
Manly regained lead two minutes from half-time when Croker scored off under the posts after centre Brad Parker leapt high to defuse a Schuster bomb. Garrick converted for a 14-10 lead.
The Sea Eagles were again forced to soak up some early pressure on their line before Marzhew scored his second try in the corner in the 50th minute for a 14-all scoreline.
The stocky winger was in again for his third try three minutes later when he got up off the ground without being held to score on the back off a strong run by Best for an 18-14 lead.
The Sea Eagles drew level in the 62nd minute when Saab raced 90 metres to score an intercept try off a Hastings pass for an 18-all scoreline.
Manly were left short a man in the 65th minute after centre Tolu Koula was placed on report and sent to the bin for a high shot on Ponga.
The Knights took advantage two minutes later with a try to Phoenix Crossland next to the posts for a 24-18 lead.
Newcastle sealed victory when winger Dominic Young beat three defenders to score a long range try in the 75th minute.