The Manly Sea Eagles have effectively ended the finals hopes of the Canberra Raiders, in control all the way as they won 36-22 in the nation’s capital.
The loss consigns them to 12th place on 24 competition points, level with four other teams but given the Raiders sport a poor differential record making the finals series will be all the harder from their position.
Meanwhile Manly secured the all-important top four berth, putting themselves five points clear of the Bulldogs at the top end of the ladder.
It was the Raiders who looked promising early, capitalising on an early error from Manly to mount their first attacking raid of the afternoon just minutes into the game. Josh McCrone’s cross-field bomb was batted back to earth by Jarrod Croker, and it was prop Brett White who was on the spot to clean up. The big man barged his way over and claimed first points, but the video referee found that he had been stripped by Peta Hiku before the ball had been grounded and Manly survived. It was then the home side’s defence getting a workout as Manly looked to strike, the left edge doing well to catch the elusive Peta Hiku and luck falling in Canberra’s favour as his flick pass couldn’t be collected by an unmarked David Williams.
Manly had more chances on the Canberra line and were wasteful with them, as first Kieran Foran knocked on the left and then a poor pass from Steve Matai stifled their options a few minutes later. Eventually they were able to capitalise on their opportunities, as Jamie Lyon displayed a great piece of skill to take Foran’s pass on the outside of his man and muscle through for first points.
Foran and Lyon combined again to double the lead just minutes later, this time the Canberra defence pushing up sparking Foran to put boot to ball. The well weighted grubber behind the line was reached first by Lyon, who had no troubles with the grounding. He converted both his own tries to put Manly up 12-0 less than halfway through the first period.
A piece of Daly Cherry-Evans magic saw Manly in good position immediately after and pressing their advantage, Cherry-Evans’ pinpoint accuracy resulting in a superb 40/20 and putting Manly deep inside Raiders territory. It was another piece of individual skill to extend their lead even further, when Peta Hiku joined the attacking line from the back, dummied wide to his support before stepping inside the cover defence and finding the line.
It looked like it was going to be a long day at the office for the Raiders when they were foiled at one end and then breached at the other as they went desperately close through winger Sami Sauiluma, only for him to lose the ball in a great defensive effort from David Williams in the corner. Manly hit back straight away, earning a penalty to put them in good field position before the left side attack clicked again and Foran weaved his magic, drifting across-field before finding Jamie Buhrer running a nice inside line. Buhrer slipped straight through a gap in the Raiders’ defence, touching down under the posts to extend the lead to 24.
Canberra were able to build some pressure of their own five minutes later when Anthony Milford’s kicking game earned a repeat set, before Matt Ballin was penalised for a high shot in the subsequent repeat set. For their efforts on the Manly line the Raiders came away with their first points of the afternoon, when Joel Thompson muscled his way close before rolling in the tackle and stretching out to score. The play was put under the double movement microscope but the on-field referee’s decision was upheld and the green light displayed for the green machine.
The first half ended in a flurry for the Raiders, as Bill Tupou busted through the line from deep inside his own territory before finding Reece Robinson racing through in support. A twist of controversy saw Steve Matai sin-binned on the stroke of halftime, his holding down in the tackle off the break deemed a professional foul and Matai was sat down for 10 minutes. The Raiders couldn’t make anything of the opportunity with just a single play on the stroke of halftime, and went into the sheds 18 points down but a man up for the best part of the opening 10 minutes of the second half.
Anthony Milford was at it again to open festivities in the second period, booting a 40/20 to put his team in good field position early. From there it was the flying Reece Robinson to finish things off, the fullback chiming in and pinning the ears back to fly through Matai’s gap in the Manly defence and score in the corner. There was some hope for Raiders fans and they seemed to be well on their way to mounting a comeback minutes later when Josh McCrone raced through off a dummy, but he butchered the opportunity when he kicked ahead for winger Sandor Earl instead of looking for support on his inside.
Matai returned and the Canberra resistance suffered another blow minutes later, when a nice right to left move opened up a gap for Anthony Watmough, receiving the ball off a draw and pass from Matt Ballin, to score under the posts.
A largely error-filled second half continued and both teams missed out on half chances, as a forward pass from Josh Papalii and then a knock on from Anthony Watmough dashed their respective teams’ chances at mounting pressure on the opposition line.
A mounting penalty count against the visitors helped Canberra significantly, and it was off the back of such ill-discipline that they again worked their way into good field position. This time it was Milford calling the shots and he showed great vision to find Sami Sauiluma on the left wing with the Manly defence left ruing their decision to come up and in on the young half. Croker’s conversion was narrowly waved away and the score was 30-16.
It wasn’t all coming up trumps for Milford however, as he knocked on in attempting to gather a well placed and well weighted chip over the defence from Josh McCrone.
There were more near misses for Manly on the Raiders’ line as Kieron Foran won the race to a beautiful Daly Cherry-Evans grubber but was unable to control it, but the visitors were gifted another chance thanks to a Raiders knock on and capitalised directly from the scrum, Foran going wide to Matai who was able to beat his man before going to Jorge Taufua on the wing. Sandor Earl looked to have Taufua’s measure but was unprepared for the young gun’s brutal fend, left grasping at thin air as Taufua streaked away to score.
Milford was one of the few shining lights for the Raiders and he snatched a final consolation try shortly before fulltime, spotting a half-gap in the Manly line and showing fantastic footwork to slip through. His speed was on show as he rounded Peta Hiku, foiled only by an ankle tap from which he recovered and evaded the remaining Manly cover defence to score under the posts. Croker converted to bring the score to 36-22, which it remained for the rest of the game.
Next week Canberra cross the Tasman to try to revive their flagging top eight hopes when they face the Warriors, before they host Cronulla in the final match of the season in Round 26. Manly will host Melbourne to put themselves in with a chance to steal third spot next weekend before a final round clash with Penrith, also at Brookvale.
Canberra Raiders 22 Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 36
Venue: Canberra Stadium
Halftime Score: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 24-6
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Daly Cherry-Evans
2 points - Kieran Foran
1 point - Peta Hiku
CANBERRA RAIDERS (22)
Tries: Joel Thompson, Anthony Milford, Reece Robinson, Sami Sauiluma
Conversions: Jarrod Croker (3/4)
MANLY-WARRINGAH SEA EAGLES (36)
Tries: Jamie Lyon (2), Peta Hiku, Jamie Buhrer, Anthony Watmough, Jorge Taufua
Conversions: Jamie Lyon (6/6)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
Interchange: 14. Glen Buttriss 13. Paul Vaughan 16. Dane Tilse 21. Sam Mataora
Sea Eagles: 20. Peta Hiku 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Jamie Lyon (c) 4. Steve Matai 5. David Williams 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Brenton Lawrence 9. Matt Ballin 17. George Rose 11. Anthony Watmough 12. Justin Horo 13. Glenn Stewart
Interchange: 14. Richie Fa'aoso 15. Jamie Buhrer 16. David Gower 18. James Hasson
Manly have Brett Stewart and Brent Kite OUT, with Peta Hiku to start at fullback in #20, while George Rose will start at prop for Kite. James Hasson comes onto the bench.
Justin Horo makes an unforced error.
Horo leaves Matai's pass behind under pressure from plenty of green jerseys. Raiders on the attack just 20m out from the line.
Kieran Foran makes an unforced error.
Foran tries to drop it on the boot but he's ruled to have knocked on. The Raiders will feed the scrum 20m out from their own line.
David Williams was screaming for it on the right edge but Foran goes shorter to Lyon, who catches the ball outside his man and muscles through two to find the line. Lyon slots it narrowly inside the left upright.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 6-0
Sandor Earl makes an unforced error.
Earl sticks out the hand to disarm the Manly attack, had the ball reached Taufua on the edge he would have been away.
Scored by Jamie Lyon. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful.
It's a double to Killer on the Manly right edge attack! Daly Cherry-Evans spots the Raiders defence coming up and slots a deft grubber in behind the line, Lyon wins the race to add to his tally. Lyon with another conversion from wide.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 12-0
Daly Cherry-Evans kicks a 40/20.
Cherry-Evans with a sniper-like boot! Robinson was on the scene quickly but the accuracy and bounce of the kick gave him no chance. Manly attacking from 15m out.
Scored by Peta Hiku. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful.
Another one for Manly! Hiku joined the line out the back with gaps galore on the left edge, instead he opts to dance inside one cover defender and beat another to find the line. Great piece of skill from the young fullback. Lyon adds the extras.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 18-0
Sami Sauiluma makes an unforced error.
Sauiluma raced for the corner but a huge defensive effort from David Williams dragged him almost into touch and forced the knock on in the corner.
Scored by Jamie Buhrer. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful.
The left side clicks again and Kieron Foran drifts, drifts, and finds Jamie Buhrer running a superb inside line. He slices straight through and can improve the position, touching down under the posts.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 24-0
Scored by Joel Thompson. Conversion attempt by Jarrod Croker successful.
The Raiders are finally on the board through Thompson, who pushed through the defensive line and did well to keep the ball carrying arm off the ground.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 24-6
Steve Matai is sent to the sin bin.
Matai has been binned! Bill Tupou made a huge break off a Raiders' scrum feed, and Matai has been binned for holding down too long at the end of the bust.
Anthony Milford kicks a 40/20.
Milford with a 40/20! The long kick is angled well and takes a cruel bounce for Manly, sitting up well out of reach of David Williams and going into touch.
Scored by Reece Robinson. Conversion attempt by Jarrod Croker successful.
Robinson with blistering pace! He caught the ball behind the play 20m out adjacent to the posts and simply pins the ears back, splitting the Manly defence en route to the corner.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 24-12
Sandor Earl makes an unforced error.
Foran put the ball up for Taufua, he and Earl went up for it and it's ruled Earl knocked on. Manly with another set off the drop-out.
Brenton Lawrence makes an unforced error.
Lawrence has lost it in the play the ball. Canberra feed the scrum on their own 40m line.
Josh McCrone makes an unforced error.
McCrone tries for the quick play the ball but he's stuffed that up too. Manly with possession back on their own 30m line.
Scored by Anthony Watmough. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful.
A great series of passes takes the Eagles from right back to the middle of the field, Cherry-Evans and Foran both attract defenders and pass, the latter finding Watmough running a great outside line to split through and score.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 30-12
Josh Papalii makes an unforced error.
Papalii with a long ball to Earl in some space, but it clearly came forward out of the hands and Earl has spilled the ball in front of him anyway. Manly survive some pressure and will resume from their own 20m line.
Anthony Watmough makes an unforced error.
Watmough can't collect the short ball from Glenn Stewart, Canberra survive.
Josh McCrone makes an unforced error.
McCrone with a forward pass to Tupou on the edge. Manly survive, working it out from their own end.
George Rose makes an unforced error.
Rose loses it in the tackle 20m out from the line. Canberra survive and will have the scrumfeed.
Scored by Sami Sauiluma. Conversion attempt by Jarrod Croker unsuccessful.
Bodies in motion for the Raiders, and the defence slides up and in. Milford sees Williams has left his wing and hits Sauiluma with the cut out ball, the winger in in the corner. Croker's conversion shaves the upright and is away.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 30-16
Anthony Milford makes an unforced error.
Josh McCrone puts in a good chip and Milford chasing through collects. His mind skipped forward to the next play and he forgets to gather the ball cleanly.
Glen Buttriss makes an unforced error.
The Raiders lose it in the tackle working out from their own end, Manly back on the attack 30m out.
Blink and you missed it! Off the scrum win Foran went long to Matai who attracted Tupou, then went wider to Taufua with some space on the edge. Earl looked to have him covered but a brilliant fend thwarted him and Taufua races away for more points.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 36-16
Scored by Anthony Milford. Conversion attempt by Jarrod Croker successful.
Milford slips straight through the Manly defence like a thief in the night! Even an ankle tap from Peta Hiku can't stop him, he's back on his feet to beat the remaining cover defence and score under the posts.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 36-22