Michael Schirripa reviews the Round 17 opener between Manly Warringah and Canberra at 4 Pines Park (Brookvale Oval). Here’s how the game went.
Sea Eagles 16
Tries: Dylan Walker (7), Haumole Olakau’atu (64), Moses Suli (70)
Goals: Reuben Garrick (65, 71)
Tries: Tom Starling (28), Sam Williams (35, 51), Sebastian Kris (56), Emre Guler (74)
Goals: Jarrod Croker (29, 36, 52, 57, 75)
Player of the Year PointsEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Joseph Tapine (Canberra Raiders)
2 pts – Tom Starling (Canberra Raiders)
1 pt – Corey Harawira-Naera (Canberra Raiders)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
In a tale of two stories, the Manly Sea Eagles were looking to close the gap on the top four, while the Canberra Raiders were hoping to avoid another loss as they fought to keep their slim finals hopes alive.
It was all going to plan in the first 10 minutes for a Manly side missing Tom Trbojevic and Daly Cherry-Evans through State of Origin, as they struck first after Dylan Walker strolled past Sam Williams from a scrum. Reuben Garrick would miss his first attempt of the evening as Manly led 4-0 after just seven minutes.
In a big blow for the Raiders, Dunamis Lui’s night was over after a calf strain forced him from the field forcing the Green Machine to play a man down on the bench.
It all seemed to go from bad to worse for the Raiders as Brad Parker looked like he scored in the corner, but a lovely try-saving tackle from debutant Xavier Savage forced the ball free and gifted his side a seven-tackle set restart from the 20 metre line.
The Raiders were able to build a plethora of pressure: Joseph Tapine and Hudson Young were leading the charge, with the halves in Williams and Matt Frawley forcing plenty of repeat sets.
The pressure eventually paid off: livewire hooker Tom Starling darted through some tired Manly defence and ran straight through to score under the posts. Jarrod Croker slotted it over the black dot from infront as the Raiders found themselves in the lead after 30 minutes of play.
Canberra were not done there: after three straight drop-outs forced by Frawley, his partnering halfback Williams sliced through like a hot knife through butter to score untouched. Croker made it an eight-point lead heading into the break.
HALF-TIME: Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 4 Canberra Raiders 12Embed from Getty Images
Manly had it all to do in the second half after being blown off the park in the first 40 by a determined Canberra team coming off a 38-point loss at home last week.
The Sea Eagles did not make lives easy for themselves as Toafoa Sipley made an error from the kick-off on the back of driving Raiders defence.
It did not take long for Canberra to score their third try of the night: Williams forced his way through and planted the ball down under the posts after 11 minutes of play in the second half. Croker’s perfect night off the boot continued as the Raiders boasted a 14-point buffer.
The rampant Raiders would go in again just five minutes after in bizarre fashion: a chip kick on Manly’s goal-line bounced off the head of Moses Suli and fell into the lap of Sebastian Kris who scored one of the easiest tries you will see this season. Croker made no mistake in converting the try and their lead was out to 20.
Manly were in with a sniff with just over 15 minutes remaining: their hard-running backrower Haumole Olakau’atu ran over three Raiders defenders as he muscled his way over the stripe. Garrick converted to cut the Raiders lead to 14.
Canberra have blown some big leads in second halves in 2021 and it looked like they were about to produce a second-half fade once again when Suli ran across field and beat some tired Raiders defenders to score untouched next to the posts. The conversion by Garrick was perfect as Manly got themselves within eight points with nine minutes remaining.
The Raiders eventually gave coach Ricky Stuart some breathing room and wrapped up the game in style with five minutes to go with prop Emre Guler capping off an emphatic win with a barnstorming try. Croker made it a perfect night off the boot to cap off a 30-16 win.
Manly will now turn their attention to the Dragons next week as they are back at 4 Pines Park on Friday night, while the Raiders will again play for their season at GIO Stadium against the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks.
FULL-TIME: Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 16 Canberra Raiders 30
to be advised
Match Review Committee
to be advised