The Manly Sea Eagles have scored a hard-fought 22-points-to-12 win over the Cronulla Sharks in the sides’ Round 3 match at Brookvale Oval.
Despite looking dangerous in attack early, the Sharks were unable to stave off a Manly fight-back – the hosts proving a touch too good at the end of the 80 minutes.
The Sharks got off to the dream start as Luke Lewis touched down for his first try of 2016, the veteran collecting half James Maloney’s cross-field bomb to touch down inside the opening five minutes.
Maloney proved just as handy with the ball on the boot from the tee as he was from the hand, in adding the extra two points without trouble to extend the Sharks lead to six.
Six soon become eight as Maloney opted for another two points from a penalty, and the Sharks looked in good touch early on a damp Brookvale Oval.
Devoid of early possession, the hosts would not get a hold of the ball until the tenth minute, with the Sharks offloads proving a threat in the middle third of the field.
Not until the 21st minute would the Sea Eagles look like scoring a point, that until Dylan Walker was brought down just short of the line, and ruled to have knocked-on in the Sharks in-goal area.
Fullback Ben Barba’s last-ditch save proved enough to keep the side’s lead at eight, but not to be deterred from the error, the hosts would begin to mount a late surge to finish the half.
Manly had looked to have crossed for tries on two occasions, but luckily for the Sharks cause, would be denied by the Bunker upon review.
The Sea Eagles though would finish the half with a bang, as substitute hooker Matt Parcell crossed on the stroke of half-time to edge his men back within two at the break.
The momentum of the match had certainly swung in the favour of the hosts late in the first period, and the Sea Eagles would pick up from where they left off as the second 40 got underway.
Manly had looked to have crossed for successive tries inside a ten-minute period when Martin Taupau crossed, but again his men would be denied from the Bunker.
Just moments later though, the hosts would not be denied, as Brett Stewart collected a kick through the line through Tom Trbojevic to hit the front.
Captain Lyon converted the second try as he did the first, in taking the Sea Eagles to a 12-8 lead.
Full of running after points, Manly had gained the ascendency of the match and would again cross for a try through forward Jake Trbojevic.
The Sharks defensive lapse close to the line proved crucial, as the lock forward burrowed in to score under the posts. Lyon converted once more in extending the hosts’ lead to 10 with near on 20 minutes to play.
Needing to lift with the game slipping further away from the Sharks grasp, Valentine Holmes injected himself into the contest with a clever kick and chase to earn the side a repeat set.
Although not to score at the next time of asking, the Sharks would eventually go in for more points when Valentine Holmes crossed on the right flank to reduce the margin to six.
Maloney’s conversion was waved away, and the score remained 18-points-to-12 in favour of the hosts with 15 to play.
That is where the Sharks scoring would end though, despite their best efforts Manly showed that they were too good in defence.
A late runaway try to Sea Eagles flyer Tom Trbojevic would seal the game for the hosts, who would score a 22-points-to-12 win in front of 5,000 fans at Brookvale.
In news out of the match, star centre Jack Bird was taken from the field with a head knock in the latter stages of the first period, and did not return.
Bird’s condition will be monitored overnight, with an update to follow on www.sharks.com.au
CRONULLA SHARKS 12 –
(TRIES: Lewis, Holmes | GOALS: Maloney (Conv. 1/2), (Pen. 1/1))
DEF. BY MANLY SEA EAGLES 22 –
(TRIES: Parcell, Stewart, J. Trbojevic, T. Trbojevic | GOALS: Lyon (3/4))