With Canberra Raiders and Manly Sea Eagles picking up wins last week, both sides looked to keep the ball rolling as they faced off at Campbelltown Stadium.
In the opening stages, Manly were working their way up to the Canberra try-line, but the momentum they’d built up was suddenly halted after Dylan Walker picked up a serious-looking ankle injury under the tackle of Elliot Whitehead.
A minute later, Brad Parker slipped just as Sia Soliola went to tackle him, and looked to lose consciousness after the back of his head slammed the floor. This left the Sea Eagles down to just two fit substitutions after only four minutes.
The first points should have arrived in the 10th minute, as Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad’s pass to Jordan Rapana looked to put the winger in plenty of room in the corner. Unfortunately, Rapana couldn’t quite grab the ball, which let the Sea Eagles off the hook.
In the vert next attacking set for Manly, they crossed the Canberra line through Tom Trbojevic.
The full-back picked the ball up out the back, stepped to the outside of Curtis Scott, and was too big and strong for the centre, to dot the ball down.
With ten minutes remaining of the half, the Raiders had finally started to take some control of the game, despite the scoreline, keeping Manly camped inside their own half with some strong defence.
The Sea Eagles held firm though, as Emre Guler knocked the ball on just a metre out from the try-line.
As the minutes ticked by, the Sea Eagles worked their way slowly back into Raiders territory, with ill-discipline from Ricky Stuart’s side.
Tom Trbjoevic was once again involved, as he once again picked the ball up outside George Williams, attacked the outside shoulder of Scott, and this time, popped the ball to Tevita Funa, who crashed over.
Reuben Garrick converted to make it 12-0, with the break not far away.
HALF-TIME: Canberra Raiders 0-12 Manly Sea Eagles
The second half began brightly for Canberra. They camped inside the Manly half from kick-off, and after ten minutes, hit back with a try.
Brendan Elliot shot out of the defensive line to grab Jack Wighton, but the half-back managed to get the ball off to Elliot Whitehead, who ran at the gap left by the Manly centre to score.
Things went from bad to worse for Manly, as just after the try was conceded, Tom Trbojevic seemed to pick up a hamstring injury, and had to leave the field, leaving Des Hasler with just one fit substitute.
With 25 minutes to go, the Raiders were penalised for being offside on their own goal-line, and with only a six-point lead, Garrick converted to extend the lead to eight.
With just over an hour gone, the next try in the game would be very important, and it looked as though Canberra had closed the gap.
George William’s high bomb across the field was claimed wonderfully be Croker, and the centre fell over the try-line. However, after the Bunker looked at the try, Croker was deemed to have lost control of the ball when he hit the floor before stretching over.
Despite the absence of Walker, Parker and Trbojevic, Manly were still looking good in attack, but their fifth tackle plays left a lot to be desired.
Jarrad Croker was the man making things happen for the Raiders, as he made yet another line break. He looked to offload to Wighton, but Manly knocked the ball on before Wighton to collect, resulting in a Canberra scrum.
From the scrum, Canberra shifted the ball out to Croker, and his out of the back offload found Jordan Rapana, who stretched over in the corner. However, Bailey Sironen dragged the winger’s legs into touch before the grounding.
Time was running away from the home side, and after a number of handling errors from the Raiders, Manly set up inside the opposition half and searched for a match sealing try.
The try didn’t seem to be coming, but by pinning Canberra inside their own ten-metre line, they closed the game out.
FULL-TIME: Canberra Raiders 6-14 Manly Sea Eagles
Nicoll-Klokstad, Rapana, Croker, Scott, Cotric, Wighton, Williams, Papalii, Hodgson, Soliola, Tapine, Whitehead, Horsburgh
Interchanges: Havili, Guler, Sutton, Young
Goals: Croker (1/1)
Manly Sea Eagles
T. Trbojevic, Funa, Parker, Elliot, Garrick, Walker, Cherry-Evans, Fonua-Blake, Levi, Keppie, Thompson, Sironen, J. Trbojevic.
Interchanges: Paseka, Croker, Gosiewski, Boyle
Tries: T. Trbojevic, Funa
Goals: Garrick (3/3)
Referee: G. Atkins
Touch Judges: T. Smith, P. Henderson
Video Referee: B. Galea
Image Source: @NRL (Twitter)