Melbourne Storm 22
Tries: Billy Slater 2, Cooper Cronk, Kurt Mann
Goals: Cameron Smith 3
Field Goals: nil
Manly Sea Eagles 19
Tries: Peta Hiku, Brett Stewart, Jorge Taufua, Jamie Buhrer
Goals: Steve Matai
Field Goals: Jack Littlejohn
The Sea Eagles took on the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park and walked away from another tight game against the Storm with a hard fought loss.
Daly Cherry-Evans and Anthony Watmough were both under injury clouds coming into the game but both took the field. They might have both sat out the game if the team didn’t already have Jamie Lyon, Glenn Stewart and Kieran Foran on the sidelines.
Steve Matai had an opportunity to open the scoring early via a 30 metre penalty goal but the kick was a shocker and he missed by a big margin.
After having more than their fair share of possession Manly were able to put the ball over the line through a great Peta Hiku effort after David Williams managed to tap the ball back into his own face and then into the in goal. Hiku beat Billy Slater to the ball and Manly were on the board.
Matt Ballin was then penalised for getting in the way of a few thrashing elbows from Cam Smith, Ryan Hoffman and Billy Slater then took advantage of a defensive mistake by Peta Hiku and put the first points on the board for the Storm.
Jack Littlejohn slotted a nicely planned field goal just before half time and Manly went into the sheds up 5-4.
Slater went over not long after half time for his second after breaking through a Ballin tackle to put the ball under the posts and Melbourne were ahead 10-5.
David Williams left the game at around the 50th minute after taking a swinging arm from Billy Slater, which went on report but will no doubt go unpunished. Tom Symonds entered the game and took over at centre while Hiku shifted to the wing.
Manly scored the next three tries through some wonderful individual efforts. Brett Stewart barged over from dummy-half as he has been known to do. Jorge Taufua showed remarkable strength to put one down in the corner and Jamie Buhrer burst from a scrum to scoot away to the line from 10 metres out. Disappointingly Manly were only able to convert one of these tries and held a hopeful lead of 19-10.
With ten minutes to go the Storm scored a lucky try after an attempted Cooper Cronk kick through the Manly defence ricocheted off a Manly players legs. Cronk was able to dive on the ball uncontested. Smith converted and the Storm were then 3 points behind.
Inside the final five minutes the Storm lifted their tempo and Manly did well to hold them out until yet another well placed kick worked amazingly well for them, a low cross field kick sailed over the head of Symonds and Storm debutante Kurt Mann caught the ball on the full a slid over the line for the match winner. Smith converted the try and the final score finished Storm 22, Sea Eagles 19.
It was a tough effort from Manly with the number of injuries they went into the game with and it was yet another week where the back line needed to be reshuffled mid-game due to injury. Geoff Toovey said after the match that Cherry-Evans pulled up fine but he did not sound all that convincing. Cherry-Evans was clearly hampered by the injury throughout the game. Jack Littlejohn had another solid game, particulalrly in defence, a few mistakes here and there but it was a good follow up to his strong debut.
Manly have a few extra days to rest this week as they take on Newcastle next Monday night at Brookvale.
For more stories about the Manly Sea Eagles go to seaeaglesblog.com