NRL. Manly vs South Sydney. Photo: Anthony Johnson Greg Inglis in a spear tackle by Richie Fa’aoso. Photo: Anthony Johnson
Adam Reynolds attempts to break a tackle. Photo: Anthony Johnson AWJ
Sam Burgess gets to grips with Steve Matai. Photo: Anthony Johnson
MATCH STATS/AS IT HAPPENED
The battle of Brookvale II? Or, to put it another way, the match of the season so far, as South Sydney’s premiership credentials were given the sternest test. Not only did they pass it, they did so after overcoming lifting tackles, high shots, a rumble and a Manly performance which lost them no friends.
The Sea Eagles’ comeback from 20-0 down was stirring, if by the end of the match unsuccessful. The contest had everything, including, dare we say it, an obstruction controversy. But what was clear above it all was that both teams, along with Melbourne and Sydney Roosters, are so far clear of the chasing pack right now the rest aren’t even in the rear-view.
Souths were superior on the night, but only just. Manly threw everything at the Rabbitohs, including a Brett Stewart elbow, two Richie Fa’aoso lifting tackles and the obligatory Steve Matai high shot – which sparked the equally obligatory scuffle between two top teams at Brookvale Oval on a Friday night. Thankfully, festivities were contained to the field of play.
Three Manly players on report over four incidents showed the intensity of the contest, as the Rabbitohs inflicted their own damage by putting on three tries on the Sea Eagles in the first 14 minutes of the second half.
Manly started as they always do at Brookvale; cocksure to the point of looking unbeatable. Winger Jorge Taufua busted through two forwards, then ran fullback Greg Inglis inside out, before the Souths star got his man. Manly centre Jamie Lyon’s grubber went just long, while Brett Stewart’s lunge went just short.
But the Rabbitohs responded. The Sea Eagles struggled to hold onto the ball, as the Souths pressure took its toll, and then frustrations led to ill-discipline. First, Richie Fa’aoso was placed on report for a lifting tackle on the fullback, who must be getting sick of watching the world upside down, while Jason King was penalised for another on the same player. The run of penalties, combined with the Sea Eagles’ handling, left the Rabbitohs camped in the Manly half for long periods. The first points of the contest, rather fittingly, came from Manly ill-discipline.
The Rabbitohs’ sixth penalty of the contest prompted loud complaints from Lyon to referee Phil Haines, but a warning from the official that the captain was close to the line: “Watch what you say,” Haines said. Reynolds kicked the ensuing penalty goal.
Just before the half-hour mark, Stewart was placed on report for his indiscretion, which on-field official Ashley Klein described as “unnecessary use of the elbow” on Andrew Everingham. Adding to the lack of necessity was the fact it was off the ball.
Manly are used to ending contests by the halftime break at Brookvale Oval, but on this occasion, they could not even score a point. The fact they still looked good for their duck egg showed the quality of the game, as well as their opponents.
But then, predictably, it only took a minute for one of the sides to finally break. With the queues for drinks on the hill still to subside, it was Inglis who was unshackled. He found space and then played with Brett Stewart, dummying a few times before, as the fullback finally dropped off the tackle, the Rabbitohs player bounded over for the first try.
Fa’aoso found himself on report for a second time for the first offence, a lifting tackle on Inglis, with five-eighth John Sutton taking full advantage by stepping to score, giving his side a stunning 14-0 lead, despite claims of obstruction.
Then came Matai’s moment. His high shot on George Burgess was ruled to have come off the ball, but he was still placed on report, while Sam Burgess was warned for being third man, but first brother, into the melee.
By that stage little was going right for the Sea Eagles, who appeared to have scored through Tom Symonds, only for the video referee to rule that Rabbitohs prop Roy Asotasi had been obstructed. Beau Champion scored a minute later, and – despite a late rally from the home side – their biggest scalp this season was achieved.
SOUTH SYDNEY 20 (B Champion G Inglis J Sutton tries A Reynolds 4 goals) bt MANLY 12 (D Cherry-Evans A Watmough tries J Lyon 2 goals) at Brookvale Oval. Referee: Phil Haines, Ashley Klein. Crowd: 20,510.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.