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2021 NRL Round 18, Sea Eagles 32 Dragons 18 – Report

Matt Pritchard reviews the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles’ 32-18 win over the St George-Illawarra Dragons at CBUS Stadium.

SCOREBOARD

Sea Eagles 32

Tries: Morgan Harper (13), Haumole Olakau’atu (19), Kieran Foran (40), Cade Cust (46), Brad Parker (58).

Goals: Reuben Garrick (14, 20, 42, 48, 60, 76 – pen)

Dragons 18

Tries: Tyrell Sloan (6), Josh McGuire (24), Gerard Beale (72)

Goals: Jack Bird (8, 25, 32 – pen)

Player of the Year Points

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3 pts – Kieran Foran (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
2 pts – Morgan Harper (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
1 pt – Haumole Olakau’atu (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)

MATCH REPORT

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1st Half

Clear conditions greeted players at CBUS Stadium in the second game of the Friday night double header. Manly were without Tom Trbojevic and Daly Cherry-Evans after playing Origin on Wednesday night. St George Illawarra were missing Matt Dufty, Tyrell Fuimaono, and Kaide Ellis through suspension, with Zac Lomax and Dan Alvaro in self-isolation after the much-publicised Paul Vaughan party.

Manly conceded a penalty from the kick-off with Marty Taupau catching Jack De Belin high in the first tackle. The Dragons dominated possession for the first five minutes but couldn’t convert after Tariq Sims lost the ball trying to crash over from close range.

The Dragons opened the scoring in spectacular fashion after seven minutes. From inside their own half, Ben Hunt sent Jack Bird down the sideline before finding Tyrell Sloan on the inside who sailed to the line. Bird converted.

Manly quickly responded with Haumole Olakau’atu breaking the Dragons’ defence close to the line and offloading to Morgan Harper for the try. Reuben Garrick’s conversion made it 6-all.

It wasn’t too long until the Sea Eagles were in again as they continued to target Brayden Wiliame in defence. Olakau’atu was the recipient this time after the play was set up by Josh Schuster. Garrick made it two from two with the conversion.

The Dragons hit back through Josh McGuire who crashed over to score next to the posts after 25 minutes. Bird’s conversion levelled the scores at 12-all.

A strip by Dylan Walker on his own line allowed the Dragons to hit the lead with Bird converting the penalty to give his side the lead.

Ben Hunt fumbled the ball at dummy half which led to an unsuccessful Captain’s Challenge near his own line. Manly couldn’t convert with the ball going into touch to end their scoring chance and Kieran Foran burning Manly’s Captain’s Challenge in the play.

St George Illawarra – in an entertaining first half – went into the sheds 14-12 ahead.

HALF-TIME: Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 12 St George Illawarra Dragons 14

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2nd Half

From the opening set of the second half Manly hit the lead, scoring from long range. Moses Suli from inside his own half found space down the sideline, with Schuster passing to Foran who finished off the play. Garrick added the extras.

Cade Cust extended the Sea Eagles’ lead soon after: sent up ‘no try’, the Bunker awarded the try as the replacement hooker stretched out to score. Garrick converted to give Manly their biggest lead of the game, 24-14.

It took 12 minutes into the second half for the Dragons to get some decent possession after Manly dominated in attack. Unfortunately they couldn’t build anything substantial in attack after defending for a long period.

After a scrappy period in the middle of the half, Foran held the ball up for a steaming Brad Parker to score. Garrick’s conversion put Manly ahead by 16.

Finally the Dragons crossed with eight minutes remaining after Hunt’s kick from inside his own half was chased through by Sloan, with Gerard Beale finishing off the play.

A late penalty conversion from Garrick put the margin outside two converted tries.

Manly were deserved winners with their free-flowing attack and domination at the start of the second half proving too good for the Dragons, who tried hard all night. Foran was the best on field with a try, two line-break assists, and one try assist. Sloan proved he’s going to be a future star of the game with an excellent performance for the Red V.

FULL-TIME: Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 32 St George Illawarra Dragons 18

Injuries

Karl Lawton (Sea Eagles) – back.

Match Review Committee

to be advised

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