By James Cusack
Manly’s forwards have a day out as they outclass the Knights 26-18 at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Both teams endured golden point finishes last start with Manly ending Souths unbeaten start to the season while Newcastle slumped to their 3rd straight loss against the Dragons.
Newcastle was looking to get back on the winners board after narrowly losing the past two games by 8 points collectively. Second-rower Sione Mata’utia (burner) was ruled out of the game earlier in the week making for a reshuffle with Connor Watson coming onto the bench and Mitch Barnett moving into the starting side.
The visitors got off to the perfect start with winger Jorge Taufua crossing over in the corner after a brilliant cut out ball from five-eighth Kane Elgey, which was converted by Cherry-Evans.
Things didn’t get any better for the Knights as Apisai Koroisau weaved his way through numerous tacklers before offloading to Taufua in support 40 metres from the try line. Taufua was quickly chased down though not before winger Reuben Garrick saw an opening and from a quality pass off Taufua stepped a Newcastle player before scoring Manly’s second try within the first 10 minutes.
Who said forwards couldn’t kick? Following Souths’ Sam Burgess horror kick a few weeks ago, forwards would have been told to leave the kicking to their halves. This message mustn’t have got to Manly’s Jake Trbojevic who put in a grubber for Joel Thompson to pounce on to make the score 18-0 after 20 minutes.
McDonald Jones Stadium hadn’t been this quiet all year.
Newcastle turned to their young star Kalyn Ponga who played an extraordinary game, days after attending his cousins’ funeral in New Zealand. Ponga kicked for Edrick Lee who evaded Manly’s fullback Brendan Elliot to score Newcastle’s first try of the game.
The second half started well for Newcastle with Aidan Guerra scoring a opportunistic try from dummy half, which was converted by Ponga to make the score 18-12.
As the game reached the last 20 minutes both teams scored four pointers through Mitch Barnett and Addin Fonua-Blake to make for an exciting finish.
Manly ending up holding on for a precious away win 26-18.
More support for Ponga needed
Knights’ Kalyn Ponga is unquestionably the most exciting player to watch in the game right now. Hence, why it would be so frustrating to be a Newcastle fan right now as they lost their fourth game in a row. Ponga is special; he creates plays and has viewers on the edge of their seats every time he touches the ball. Halves Mitchell Pearce and Mason Lino need to start controlling the pace of the game better to alleviate the workload of Ponga.
Fingers crossed for Guerra
It’s never good to see a player go off on the back of a medicab, as the injury most likely is season ending. Knights forward Aidan Guerra suspected broken ankle will sideline him for several months. Best wishes for his recovery.
Manly are the real deal in 2019
Many wrote off Manly at the beginning of the season though after their third win on the trot they are one of the form teams in the competition. Led by their forward pack Addin Fonua-Blake (159m) and Jake Trbojevic (45 tackles) they had Manly on the front foot from the outset. If they can keep this form up over the next month a top eight finish is well and truly on the cards.
Brown feeling the pressure?
Knights coach Nathan Brown wouldn’t have expected a 1-4 start to their season but here they are. Newcastle could easily have a winning record if they had the ability to close out games, something I’m sure will come though hasn’t yet. Media during the week asked questions if Knights didn’t make the eight would Brown be let go. Common sense says no though if they don’t start beat the lowly Titans next Sunday the pressure cooker will only intensify.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 26
Tries: Jorge Taufua, Reuben Garrick, Joel Thompson, Addin Fonua-Blake
Goals: Daly Cherry-Evans 5/6
Newcastle Knights 18
Tries: Edrick Lee, Aidan Guerra, Mitch Barnett
Goals: Kalyn Ponga 3/3
Manly: 1. Brendan Elliott 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Moses Suli 4. Brad Parker 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Kane Elgey 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Martin Taupau 11. Joel Thompson 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic. Interchange: 14. Manase Fainu 15. Jack Gosiewski 16. Corey Waddell 17. Toafofoa Sipley.
Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Edrick Lee, 3. Hymel Hunt, 4. Jesse Ramien, 5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 6. Mason Lino, 7. Mitchell Pearce, 8. David Klemmer, 9. Danny Levi, 10. James Gavet, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 17. Mitch Barnett, 13. Tim Glasby. Interchange: 15. Aidan Guerra, 16. Daniel Saifiti, 18. Josh King, 19. Connor Watson