Sea Eagles Snuff Storm

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles have defeated the Melbourne Storm 24-22 in another ‘Battle at Brooky’ on Saturday night. 

In a match of debatable decisions and missed opportunities, luck was certainly not on the Storm’s side. Daly Cherry-Evans and Brett Stewart clicked for the Eagles, while the Storm’s ‘Super 3’ were unable to keep in touch.

In a close opening quarter both sides played tidy, physical football. The fans enjoyed a 100% completion rate and several attacking attempts at both lines.

Steve Matai finished off a nice bust through the line and offload by Feleti Mateo in the 9th minute. Jamie Buhrer supported and got the ball to the flying Matai who scored in the corner for a 6-0 lead to the Sea Eagles.

Young Tonumaipea hit by a big cut out pass thrown to the right wing by Billy Slater 50 metres out. The young winger straightened his run and then angled towards the right hand corner, beating Slater for speed in 19th minute. Cameron Smith kicked the conversion to lock the scores at 6-6.

Manly were not going to lie down, especially in front of their home fans and after a poor show against Parramatta last week. A huge tackle by Dunamis Lui on Young Tonumaipea in the 24th minute typified the approach by the Sea Eagles forward pack.

Melbourne had a close chance go begging when prop Jesse Bromwich dropped the ball over the line while reaching out to score in the 27th minute.

In a contentious decision not to review a challenge off a bomb, match referee Jared Maxwell ruled a straight knock-on against Tonumaipea. Replays showed that Melbourne had a case and that the winger rightly scored what would have been his second of the night.

In a 12-point turn around, Daly Cherry-Evans waved his wand with an underhand flick inside to second rower Tom Symonds to break the Storm line. Symonds found Brett Stewart in support on the inside to finish the try for a 12-6 lead.

Chery-Evans attacked the line, grubbering off the outside of the foot 10 metres out for Blake Leary. In his 4th NRL match, Leary had plenty of time to fall on the perfectly weighted ball to score his first ever try in the top grade. 

Cherry-Evans was proving a point in front of the home fans. After signing for the Gold Coast Titans last week, the enigmatic half back is clearly out to play his best footy in the remaining matches for Manly. Cherry-Evans took on the line, beating Blake Green for speed and found Brett Stewart again supporting on the inside to put Manly up 24-6 at half time.

Brett Stewart’s second meant that he has now scored the most tries ever as a Sea Eagle at Brookvale (79) eclipsing Steve Menzies previous record of 78.

“A good start, but we have a lot of work to do in the second half,” commented Manly captain Jamie Lyon in a great show of respect for his opposition at the break.

Solid Manly defence held out some probing Storm attacking play in the second half. Another controversial decision to disallow a try to Tim Glasby. The interchange forward was rolled by Brett Stewart right on the line and looked to use momentum to get the ball down. Jared Maxwell again ruled a ‘no try’, but this time did at least go upstairs to check, where he was mystically reinforced by the video referee. 

It took a slip by the Manly defence on their goal line for Melbourne to score. On the back of yet another contentious decision, this time going Melbourne’s way, Manly were ruled offside and a penalty was awarded against them. Cameron Smith missed what would prove to be a valuable conversion, so the score remained 24-10 with 16 minutes remaining.

Marika Koroibete returned a kick with explosive speed in the 67th minute, running 70 metres through the Manly defence only to be pulled down by a try-saving Brett Stewart tackle. The resulting play saw Melbourne use thier numbers to score again in the right corner. Smith converted this time to pull the Manly lead back to 8.

Melbourne scored in the 74th minute when Blake Green dummied and went at the line from 10 out. A two-point game in the final minutes came down to so extraordinary defence by Manly. 

“Funny thing about footy, everything is different,” commented Manly record breaker Brett Stewart after a more impressive performance from his side in round two.

“We dug ourselves a bit of a hole in the first half,” commented a disappointed Billy Slater.

“We will be back.”