The Knights put up a valiant effort against the Sea Eagles, but that didn’t matter as Manly prevailed at home in atrocious conditions 18-14. The Sea Eagles have now won two straight at home, dominating the middle of the park through their forwards against a small and out-classed Newcastle outfit.
Knights increase their relevance
Newcastle were fairly beaten by Melbourne last week, registering a lack of successful attacking opportunities as well as failing to enter Melbourne’s 20 metre line for the first 71 minutes of the game. It was a different outcome at Lottoland, as the Se Eagles only narrowly put away the Knights and failed to control the game for the whole 80 minutes.
Although not to the same degree as last week, the Knights were halted by Manly’s defence early on and never got a hold on the game. Manly controlled 54 percent of possession, and had the bulk of attacking opportunities. What hurt the Sea Eagles were their errors, 11 to Newcastle’s 7 and reducing their completion percentage down to 71 percent to Newcastle’s 79. Newcastle continued to stay in the game, holding out the Sea Eagles for most of the second half highlighted by Brendan Elliot collecting the ball on numerous kicks off last tackles. 6 straight penalties handed to the Knights allowed them to move up the field, and a bad play of the ball created an attacking chance with Jaelen Feeney scoring their first try. Their second came against the run of play, with a few lacklustre runs from the forwards leading to Danny Levi bursting through the middle and scoring in the 75th minute next to posts, keeping the Knights alive. Regardless of the eventual loss, Newcastle improved in both areas compared to last week, but once again, they have a long way to go until they are considered payoff contenders.
Controversial try to Uate hinders Knights chances
It was arguably the ‘no-call’ of the season so far along with Brisbane’s equalising try against South Sydney in round 8, as the Knights were dealt a low blow in a second half try to Akuila Uate.
Up 12-8, Manly had an overlap and off a scrum pounced on an attacking opportunity on the right side. The touch judge and referee both gave the green light as a try was awarded to Uate. Though on replay, it appeared the ball had been knocked out of his hands, and there was a significant gap between Uate’s hands and the ball as both fell to the ground. At the absolute worst, logically, a penalty would have gone the way of the Sea Eagles for a two man strip and a possible penalty of two points. Other than that, the Knights should have gotten the ball from a knock on and marched down the field letting the game go on. Although it was not last minute, it proved the difference at the end of the game, and rightfully so Newcastle should feel somewhat robbed.
Manly right edge turning into one of the best
The right edge attack of the Sea Eagles was again in fine form, or as much as they could be, with their star men living up to their statuses. Cherry-Evans was once again instrumental with his boot as well as his run game, and working with Dylan Walker, like most of 2017, proved to be magical for the Eagles. Further out, Uate continued to play through his skin considering his age and decline of form in the last couple of seasons, and capped the night with two tries.
In particular, Manly’s first four-pointer came from a greats et of passes off the ruck, an overlap sending Uate over the line and putting his side into the lead early on. All three men combined for 328 running metres, with Cherry-Evans adding 204 kicking metres off 9 total kicks. Walker was the man assisting the tries this game, and as the weeks go by both Walker and Cherry-Evans will become even more prominent in Manly’s electrifying attack in 2017.
Scrappy, wet – A must win for Manly
The tough, wet games where just constantly running the ball at the opposition is the key are the games that need to be won by the bigger teams. Brisbane weren’t able to do the job against the Dogs earlier in the year, a game proving their grit and strength in the middle which slipped away. For Manly however, they took this one, in no fancy fashion, but with class and grit.
The Sea Eagles out ran the Knight by almost 400 metres, and dominated the middle with great defensive performances holding out the Knights. Their big men, with Marty Taupau and Jake Trbojevic for example, both had huge games in terms of metres and offensive production. Too many mistakes will mean Barrett will want a more polished performance next week, but given the conditions, the Manly coach should be happy with his side’s strong showing on Friday night.
Sea Eagles: 18
Tries: Uate (2) (20m, 59m), Sironen (50m)
Goals: Wight 3/3
Tries: Feeney (36m), Levi (75m)
Goals: Lamb 3/3