Matt Orford stuck to the game plan tonight to guide Manly to a 31-18 victory over a pedestrian Raiders outfit. This was despite the sending off of rising star Adam Cuthbertson for a high tackle on Raiders prop Troy Thompson in the 31st minute of the game.
On a clear and cold night in the nations capital, Manly showed why they will again be a force to be reckoned with in 2008.
Canberra started in the worst possible way with a mistake in the first set of the game. Manly capitalised in the 7th minute with a Try to Michael Robertson from an Orford kick. From that point on it was all Manly as they dominated possession and territory and looked the more disciplined team.
A second Try to Manly through Matt Ballin placed more pressure on Canberra and kept the decent crowd of 13,120 quiet. An extremely high tackle by Cuthbertson on Thompson had referee Sean Hampstead asking his touch judge, " Do you agree with the decision I am about to make?". That decision was to send Cuthbertson from the field. There can't have been too many complaints as it looked like a bad one.
What should have galvanised the Raiders instead had the opposite effect and Manly stayed extremely cool under pressure to go into the break with a two try lead.
There was always going to be a tough period in the second half for Manly, and that period came between the 57th and 64th minutes when Canberra came up with two tries and looked to be finishing over the top of a tiring Manly outfit.
The turning point however, came one minute after the Raiders had scored their second try when Manly fullback Brett Stewart made a superb last ditch tackle on Milne, who should have done better with oodles of support on the inside, and instead was taken into touch.
This seemed to lift Manly who came up with a try two minutes later to Matai and from there Orford closed out the match despite a late consolation try to the Raiders.
Match Details Manly Sea Eagles 31 def Canberra Raiders 18 Round 12 - May 30th, 2008 7:45pm Venue: Canberra Stadium Referee: Sean Hampstead Half time: Sea Eagles 12-0 Crowd: 13,120
Canberra Raiders (18)
Tries: Colin Best, Todd Carney, Trevor Thurling
Goals: Todd Carney (3/3)
Manly Sea Eagles (31)
Tries: Michael Robertson, Matt Ballin, Anthony Watmough, Steve Matai, Steve Menzies
Field Goals: Matt Orford (1/1)
Goals: Matt Orford (5/5)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match
3 Points: Matt Orford (Sea Eagles) 2 Points: Joel Monaghan (Sea Eagles) 1 Point: Anthony Watmough (Sea Eagles)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
Good evening fellow NRL fans and welcome to League Unlimited's live coverage of tonights showdown between Manly and Canberra. We're coming to you from Canberra Stadium where the temperature is cold and getting colder... 12 degrees at present.
Tonights game will see Manly looking to put up a better performance than their lacklustre effort last week against the Dragons, whilst Canberra will be looking to build on their last start win against Souths and have the added bonus of an extra week's rest.
Both teams running onto the ground now.
Kick off and we are underway.
1 min: Canberra knock on first set. Manly have an early crack at the Raiders line.
4 min: Great set of six Canberra, Manly drop out.
7 min: Video Ref Decision - Possible Manly Try from a kick.
7 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles Conversion Attempt no good. Good Try to Michael Robertson in the corner. Smart kick to the corner from Orford. Manly 4-0
17 min: Injury - Picker (Canberra)
22 min: Video Ref Decision - Possible Manly Try. Checking onside and grounding.
22 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles Good effort by Ballin. Pressure starting to tell on Canberra. Manly have had a heap more possession and territory. Conversion attempt by Matt Orford successful. Manly Sea Eagles 10-0
26 min: Video Ref Decision - Possible Manly Try.
26 min: NO TRY. 20 Metre restart to Canberra.
27 min: 40/20 Kick to Canberra. Great kick by Carney.
30 min: Video Ref Decision - Possible Canberra Try.
30 min: NO TRY. Line Dropout to Manly.
31 min: SEND OFF!! Adam Cuthbertson has almost taken Thompson's head off. For that piece of work Hampstead has sent him off for an early shower. Penalty Canberra.
34 min: PENALTY GOAL Manly Sea Eagles Matt Orford opts for the 2 points to skip to a 2 converted try lead. Manly Sea Eagles 12-0
40 min: HALF TIME - Good half of football by Manly. Canberra have not shown much in the way of attack. All tries have come from kicks as there have been no line breaks. One gets the feeling that with 12 men for the rest of the game, Manly will slow the game down at every opportunity. Matt Orford has been the maestro for Manly, while Carney goes to the lead for 40/20 kicks in the NRL. Manly Sea Eagles 12-0
41 min: Underway in the second half. Manly in possession.
43 min: Video Ref Decision - Possible Canberra Try.
43 min: NO TRY. Great work on the left fringe by Monaghan who fed the speedman Milne who found space, chipped and almost came up with a superb Try. Slight knock on spoils the party.
49 min: Completion Rates: Manly 75% Canberra 65%
51 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles Vintage Watmough. Anthony running on the fridges finds a gaping hole and sprints 25 metres to score untouched. Conversion attempt by Matt Orford successful. Manly Sea Eagles 18-0
52 min: INJURY: Glen Buttriss doesn't look good as he is helped off the field. Possible concussion
55 min: Video Ref Decision - Possible Manly Try
55 min: NO TRY. Obstruction. David Williams deserved better there as he ran 50 metres to score.
57 min: Video Ref Decision - Possible Canberra Try
57 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Good lead up work by Campese who feeds Best to score in the corner. Great sideline conversion from Carney. Manly Sea Eagles 18-6
64 min: Video Ref Decision - Possible Canberra Try
64 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Great Try to Todd Carney. Chipped ahead and Thurling regathered and found Carney who scored under the posts. Game On!! Conversion attempt by Todd Carney successful. Manly Sea Eagles 18-12
65 min: Manly fullback Brett Stewart makes a great last ditch tackle on Milne to take him into touch 9 metres out with 3 players in support on the inside.
67 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles Strong Try and great step by Steve Matai. Stepped past Monaghan and took three defenders to the line. Conversion attempt by Matt Orford successful. Manly Sea Eagles 24-12
72 min: FIELD GOAL Manly Sea Eagles Simple field goal to Orford to finish off the Raiders for the night you would think. Manly Sea Eagles 25-12
76 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles Opportunist Try for Beaver Menzies who pounces on a Thompson mistake, toes ahead and scores 5 metres to the right of the posts. Conversion attempt by Matt Orford successful. Manly Sea Eagles 31-12
80 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Great break by Joel Monaghan. Put into the gap by Campese, accelerated through and showed good strength to offload to Thurling who scored a great consolation Try. Conversion attempt by Todd Carney successful. Manly Sea Eagles 31-18
80 min: And that's full time here at Canberra Stadium. Manly were too good for the Raiders. Gutsy effort by a team with 12 players for 49 minutes of the game.