The injury-ravaged Manly Sea Eagles welcomed table-toppers Parramatta Eels to Lottoland as they looked to get their season back on track in a tough game.
Despite being the favourites, the Eels started poorly.
Danny Levi pushed the ball to Martin Taupau who then did what he does best and powered over the line with four Eels defenders hanging onto him.
Manly’s bright start continued as the ten-minute mark approached.
This time, Danny Levi ran from dummy-half and broke through the tackle of Junior Paulo and stretched over.
Unfortunately, the hooker’s ball-carrying arm hit the deck before he stretched to score and the try was disallowed.
For an unknown reason, Parramatta couldn’t bring themselves up to their usual standards, and in the 15th minute, Daly Cherry-Evans collected the ball at first receiver, ran in between Shaun Lane and Dylan Brown and breezed past the half-back for an easy second.
Following Clint Gutherson’s kick-off going out on the full beyond the dead-ball line, the Sea Eagles camped inside the Eels half once again.
This time Levi wouldn’t be denied as the shimmied left from dummy-half but then ran right to catch Parramatta off guard and score from just two metres out.
The game eased off slightly in the next ten minutes, as the Eels tightened up their defence.
With ten minutes to go until the break, Parramatta did manage to pull a score back as a quick catch and pass from Nathan Brown to Gutherson allowed the full-back to release Michael Jennings on the left wing to slide over.
In the final minute of the half, the Sea Eagles had possession of the ball once again and looked to extend their lead further.
Cherry-Evans kicked along the floor into the in-goal area and Joel Thompson was the quickest to react and grounded the ball for the fourth try of the night.
HALF-TIME: Manly Sea Eagles 22-4 Parramatta Eels
The Eels came out of the sheds the brighter of the two sides as they went close through Reed Mahoney but the hooker couldn’t quite keep a hold of the ball, and the Sea Eagles were let off the hook.
With 25 minutes to go, Taupau seemed to lose the ball within 10 metres of the line, and Waqa Blake gained possession, in what looked like a loose carry from the prop-forward.
The centre then raced down the pitch and was so very nearly caught by Reuben Garrick but he managed to get over on the right edge.
With an hour gone, the Sea Eagles still lead by 14 points, and the Eels were visibly tiring as they struggled to Manly’s strong defensive efforts.
With just over ten minutes remaining, the Eels pushed against the feed in the scrum and managed to win a penalty, and looked to crash through the line of the home side.
Mahoney kicked early on the fourth tackle, and it looked as though Reagan Campbell-Gillard may have grounded the ball, unfortunately, the prop-forward couldn’t quite gather the ball and Manly escaped once more.
With eight minutes to go though, the Sea Eagles just couldn’t hold on any longer.
The Eels shifted the ball out to the left edge to target to injured Moses Suli and Michael Jennings walked through a big gap for his second of the night.
IN the final minute of play, the Eels were determined to get closer to the Sea Eagles and spread the ball out to Maika Sivo to power his way over.
However, Brad Parker had other ideas and clattered into the Fijian winger, and left him lying on the ground with a heavy knock to his knee, forcing him off the field.
Following the break-in play, Parramatta instantly spread the ball right to George Jennings who did enough to cross in the corner.
They chose not to take the kick at goal and try and win the ball back from the restart but Cherry-Evans kick was knocked on by Geroge Jennings and the game ended
FULL-TIME: Manly Sea Eagles 22-18 Manly Sea Eagles
Manly Sea Eagles
Elliot, Taufua, Parker, Suli, Garrick, Cust, Cherry-Evans, Paseka, Levi, Taupau, Thompson, Sironen, Trbojevic
Interchanges: Croker, Gosiewski, Keppie, Waddell
Tries: Taupau, Cherry-Evans, Levi, Thompson
Goals: Garrick (3/4)
Gutherson, Sivo, M. Jennings, Blake, G. Jennings, D. Brown, Field, Campbell-Gillard, Mahoney, Paulo, Lane, Takairangi, N. Brown
Interchanges: Gower, Utoikamanu, Niukore, Davey
Tries: M. Jennings (2), Blake, G. Jennings
Goals: Gutherson (1/3)
Referee: A. Klein
Touch Judges: P. Gough, M. Noyen
Video Referee: B. Scott
Image Source: @NRL (Twitter)