Few could see past a win for top of the ladder side Paramatta Eels as they face eleventh placed Manly Sea Eagles. A win would put the Eels two points clear at the top of the ladder after Melbourne Storm joined them yesterday. A win for the Sea Eagles would lift them two places into ninth and keep them in touch with the all-important top eight.
Manly had Corey Waddell in for Morgan Boyd while the Eels brought in Andrew Davey and George Jennings for Blake Ferguson and Ryan Matterson.
A vociferous home crowd hoped that their side could spring a surprise.
Two minutes in and Manly stunned the Eels. Four tacklers failed to ground Martin Taupau from five metres out as the prop forward pumped his legs and took him over the line to ground. Reuben Garrick added the conversion for the perfect start for the Sea Eagles.
On fourteen minutes Daly Cherry-Evans went through an enormous gap in the Eels defence for a ten-metre walk in try. Garrick added the extras to double the lead to 12-0. Paramatta were looking out of sorts.
After being denied a try by the video referee, Danny Levi went from dummy half in a trademark scoot for the third Manly try on seventeen. Garrick was unable to convert this one, but his side were already 16-0 ahead.
The Eels grabbed a lifeline on thirty when Michael Jennings slid over in the left corner off a Clinton Gutherson pass. Gutherson was wide of the uprights with his conversion attempt.
Inside the last minute the Sea Eagles scored their fourth try of the evening when Joel Thompson grounded a Cherry-Evans kick to the corner. Garrick kicked his third goal of the night for a 22-4 lead at the break.
A Lachlan Croker 40-20 gave Manly excellent field position but on the first play Waqa Blake took the ball from Martin Taupau as he carried it loosely, the centre pinned back his ears and running eighty metres to score in the corner after outpacing the cover tacklers. Gutherson hit the far upright, failing to convert.
Michael Jennings got his second of the night on seventy-three as he found space down the left to take a Gutherson pass and stroll through a tired Manly defence. Gutherson added the conversion for 14-22.
With six seconds left on the clock George Jennings was on hand to lunge for the corner for a four pointer for the Eels who elected not to take the kick at goal. The short kick off went to Manly hands and Manly held on for a famous win, despite being kept pointless in the second half.
This was not the best day in the office for the Eels as they were dealt just their second defeat of the season, but by a losing margin which saw them retain their top spot on the ladder over Storm by a single point scoring difference. Manly are right back in the mix for the play off places as they jumped two places into ninth spot in the table, level on points with the Tigers and the Rabbitohs in seventh and eighth.
Manly Sea Eagles: Elliot, Taufua, Parker, Suli, Garrick (3G), Cust, Cherry-Evans (T), Paseka, Levi (T), Taupau (T), Thompson (T), Sironen, Trbojevic. Subs: Croker, Gosiewski, Keppie, Waddell.
Paramatta Eels: Gutherson (G), Sivo, Jennings M (2T), Blake (T), Jennings G (T), Brown D, Field, Campbell-Gillard, Mahoney, Paulo, Lane, Takairangi, Brown N. Subs: Gower, Utoikamanu, Niukore, Davey.
Referee: Ashley Klein.
Ground: Lottoland, Sydney.