Brendan Wood reviews the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles tight win over a fast finishing Melbourne Storm on Thursday night.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 36
Tries: Tolutau Koula (9, 58), Jason Saab (21, 40), Christian Tuipulotu (24), Morgan Harper (49), Haumole Olakau’atu (52)
Goals: Reuben Garrick (22), Daly Cherry-Evans (53, 59, 65)
Melbourne Storm 30
Tries: Nick Meaney (14), Brandon Smith (54), Nelson Asofa-Solomona (74), Ryan Papenhuyzen (77, 79), Justin Olam (78)
Goals: Nick Meaney (15, 55) Ryan Papenhuyzen (78)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
Another installment of the Manly/Melbourne rivalry kicked off with plenty of errors. Both sides looked jittery as ball security was a struggle to maintain. With the back and forth exchanges not resulting in any points, the deadlock was broken by an individual effort from Tolutau Koula.
The Storm drifted left, and returning fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen tried to thread a kick through – only for it to be caught by Koula. With nothing but space ahead of him, no one could catch Koula as he raced 90 metres to open the scoring.
The response from the Storm was swift. Off the back of a Manly error, five minutes later they had their first points. This time, Ryan Papenhuyzen went to his passing game. He threw a bullet-like pass to Nick Meaney who crossed for a try in the corner.
Undeterred by the response, Manly found a way around their error riddled start. Kicking early in the count, Daly Cherry-Evans dug deep to produce a near perfect 40/20. With momentum on their side, Manly sliced through for their second try when Reuben Garrick setup Jason Saab.
Just minutes later, Cherry-Evans was in the thick of it again. This time he put up a swirling bomb that couldn’t be defused. The ball bounced, and Christian Tuipulotu regathered possession. He burrowed his way to the line and got the ball down to extend the lead.
A frenetic 10 minutes followed, with the Storm making un-Storm like errors and giving Manly plenty of field position. Inside the last minute, Manly spread the ball through the hands and got another overlap for Jason Saab, who juggled the ball before touching down for his second try on the stroke of halftime.
HALF-TIME: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 18 Melbourne Storm 6Embed from Getty Images
It was a horror start to the second half for the Storm as they produced an error in the first set. Manly had a few cracks at the Storm line without much success. However, they refused to be denied. Kieran Foran was directing traffic for Manly and his pass put Morgan Harper through a hole to draw first blood after the break.
The Storm were reeling as Manly surged forward again. This time it was a line break from Tolutau Koula who opened up the defence. With the Storm still struggling to regain composure, Manly sensed a chance on the right edge again and Haumole Olakau’atu powered his way through a tackle to score.
In an unlikely turn of events, it was the Storm who scored a try less than a minute later off the next kick-off. Martin Taupau hit the ball up and Brandon Smith produced a one-on-one strip. He pinched the ball and an easy try to get the Storm back on track.
However, it was the Manly halves who ensured the Storm comeback was dented before it began. With another shot at the Storm’s line, Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans combined to send Tolutau Koula through a hole and over for his second try.
The game progressed into its final stages and the Storm refused to give up despite being down by 24 points. After a scrum play in attacking position, Nelson Asofa-Solomona barged over Reuben Garrick for a quick try with five minutes to go. Off the next kick-off, Manly conceded a penalty for being offside.
That penalty triggered an avalanche of late points for the Storm. First it was Ryan Papenhuyzen slicing through the defence to pick up a try. A minute later, a kick out on the full by Daly Cherry-Evans led to another Storm try, this time it was Justin Olam crashing over to cut the lead back to 10 with only two minutes to go.
As the crowd grew restless, the Storm kept playing and with Manly clocking off, they scored their fourth try in five minutes. Ryan Papenhuyzen broke through the line again to score, then opted not to attempt a conversion with the scores at 36-30. With one final roll of the dice, the Storm fell short of producing a miraculous comeback, as Manly held on to record a tight six point win.
FULL-TIME: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 36 Melbourne Storm 30
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles), 2 pts – Ryan Papenhuyzen (Melbourne Storm), 1 pt – Kieran Foran (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles)
Follow Nothing But League on Facebook.