Shannon Meyer reviews a come-from-behind win from Parramatta after trailing Manly for most of the game.
Tries: Hayze Perham 2 (17, 29) Tom Opacic (59) Will Penisini (77)
Goals: Mitchell Moses 3 (31, 60, 77)
Sea Eagles 20
Tries: Reuben Garrick 2 (13, 50) Christian Tuipulotu (21) Morgan Harper (43)
Goals: Reuben Garrick 2 (15, 21)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
Friday night football came to Parramatta, a night before the local Parramatta electorate becomes a key seat in the Federal Election. So a key match at Commbank Stadium on Friday night awaited also, as two top four hopefuls battled each other on a wet and initially smokey night in Parramatta.
Parramatta looked to have opened the scoring in just the third minute via Clint Gutherson in his 150th game, and it was awarded, but like a few times already this weekend it was overruled by The Bunker. Except this one seemed fair enough. It was disallowed after an Eels player pushed a Manly player in the back in the scramble of a late tackle bomb.
It was an arm wrestle with both sides from that point until the Sea Eagles opened the scoring for real in the 13th minute as Reuben Garrick dived over in the corner. Manly moved the ball back to the left, with quick hands from a pair of Trbojevics, Kieran Foran and Morgan Harper who eventually found Garrick who slid over without trouble. It was set up was Josh Schuster who showed great reflexes to pluck a lacklustre chip kick attempt from Mitchell Moses and run 50 metres down the left to set up Manly for the attacking set.
Parramatta didn’t let Manly get too far ahead, as they pegged back the Sea Eagle with their next attacking sets. After receiving the bonus of an early tackle penalty, Parramatta were in prime position to hit back, and hit back they did. After setting up territory-wise for a few plays the Eels went left through the hands similar to the Sea Eagles opener, with Dylan Brown and Mitchell Moses involved, and winger Hayze Perham equally untroubled diving into the corner. Moses missed the conversion and the Eels trailed by only two points now.
It only took a few minutes but Manly extended their lead, as a third different winger scored the third try of the match. After burning down the left the play before, Manly went right quickly, and a 20 metre floating pass found Christian Tuipulotu on the chest and he broke through couple of a feeble attempts to tackle him on the line. The conversion from Garrick gave Manly a 12-4 lead.
Parramatta pressured Manly’s line for a while in the next passages of pay, several Eels players proving not to be slippery enough as they made it over the line but couldn’t get the ball down. But eventually the possession and territory told and the Eels had scored their second try with 10 minutes to go until half time.
The try was set up going left by Clint Gutherson and Moses as their sharp passing found and unmarked Hayze Perham who simply strolled to the line for his second of the evening. A first goal of the game for Mitchell Moses reduced the gap to two points, a difference that stayed in the last five minutes until half time.
But there was still action to come in the first half as Mitchell Moses was sent to the sin bin to full time for the crime of grabbing the arm of Tom Trbojevic as they were following a Manly break close to their line. It looked pretty soft, especially in comparison to other un-punished crimes this season. Manly couldn’t take advantage in the last minute of the first half, but had the one player advantage for the first nine minutes of the second half. Perhaps Manly could get out of sight before the Eels playmaker returned?
HALF-TIME: Parramatta Eels 10 Manly Sea Eagles 12Embed from Getty Images
It didn’t take long for Manly to make the most of their extra player. Early in the tackle count, and well within their own half they threw the ball almost the width of the field, and found Tom Trbojevic who slipped through the Eels defense ran to within 20 metres of the line and found a supporting Morgan Harper who finished the job with relative ease in the corner. The conversion missed, leaving the gap at just six points, but Manly had another five minutes with an extra player.
The Sea Eagles continued to dominate the game, even when the Eels returned to 13 players, and Manly skipped ahead 20-10 in the 50th minute as Reuben Garrick scored his second of the night. After being gifted the ball from an Eels error, Kieran Foran put through the perfect grubber close to the line and Garrick chased best to score in the corner. He failed to convert his own try, which kept the door open for Parramatta.
But Manly were on top and continually threatened the Eels line, but Parramatta held on well with some great goal line defense. And they needed to, they weren’t getting anywhere near the Manly line at this stage of the game with nearly a quarter of the game to go.
That tenacity was rewarded in the 59th minute as Parramatta closed the gap to Manly to four points through Tom Opacic, who took advantage of a beautiful offload from Shaun Lane to slip through and under the Manly defense close to the line. Lane having run a great line from a Clint Gutherson inside ball as he swept to the left. The Eels had eased the pressure and got within four points of Manly with plenty of time left to play.
Things started going against Manly at this stage, the rain came down heavier which is always going to favour a water based animal. Then Haumole Olakau’atu was placed on report for pressure on the neck in a tackle. And then it looked like the Eels had scored and taken the lead. Mitchell Moses looked to have scrambled best after a bomb wasn’t taken cleanly, but The Bunker ruled it was an Eels knock on.
The good news of the No Try ruling was put into insignificance as Tom Trbojevic left the field with his arm in a sling, caused by the aftermath of the mad rush to stop the previously mentioned try from being scored. Trobjevic looked in real pain, and it looked like an injury that could cloud his participation in the upcoming Origin series.Embed from Getty Images
More bad news was to come for Manly, as they were reduced to 12 players for the final seven minutes of the match, and would have to work extra hard to defend their four point lead. The culprit was Sean Keppie who had to leave the field for a lifting tackle on Reagan Campbell-Gillard, which is some effort. As would be Manly’s effort if they could hold off the Eels in the final five minutes in front of a roaring home crowd.
Manly saw another player on report the very next set, as what looked like a very fine cover tackle from Christian Tuipulotu was revealed to be a little high, so instead of stopping an Eels try, they now had another full set on their own line.
The Sea Eagles survived the first Parramatta assault, cleaning up a grubber and giving away another set, but couldn’t hold on next time as Parramatta levelled the scores through centre Will Penisini. The try was set up from second phase play courtesy of offload machine Ryan Matterson, and going through the hands of Clint Gutherson and a Gene Miles special from Isaiah Papali’i then onto Penisini who evaded the Manly cover defense. Mitchell Moses nailed the sideline conversion to the cheers of the home crowd as the Eels took the lead for the first time of the evening.
In an exciting finish, Manly got the ball back from a short kick off, and threw plenty at the Eels, but a fourth tackle grubber from Haumole Olakau’atu wasn’t the option Manly needed with 30 seconds to go, and the Eels covered the kick in goal and soaked up the final second to win the crucial all Sydney clash and move to fifth on the ladder, equal with Broncos.
It was a tenacious performance from the Eels, waiting until late to steal the win. But the Sin Bins did end up appearing to be vital, with Manly’s late game punishment opening the door for Parramatta for their late final try. The Sea Eagles remain just outside the top eight in ninth, while the Eels have enough points to be equal with Brisbane (4th) and North Queensland (3rd).
The big question out of the game however will be the extent of the Tom Trbojevic injury, with Manly’s and NSW prospects resting on a favourable diagnosis.
FULL-TIME: Parramatta Eels 22 Manly Sea Eagles 20Embed from Getty Images
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTS
3 pts – Clint Gutherson (Eels), 2 pts – Ryan Matterson (Eels), 1 pt – Kieran Foran (Sea Eagles)
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