A Manly Sea Eagles outfit that wasted three clear-cut scoring chances still proved too good for Brisbane in a 16-4 win at Brookvale on Friday night on the back of a defensive masterclass in front of 12,873 fans.
Centre Steve Matai, who spent the last 15 minutes of the first half off getting a concussion test, produced a series of great defensive reads and stinging hits while five-eighth Kieran Foran shook off a bad case of flu to star in attack and defence.
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There was also yet another Brookvale try for Brett "the Prince of Brookvale" Stewart, taking his career tally to 143 and his Brookvale total to 75 in 81 games. Daly Cherry-Evans was also very good, despite being involved in three fluffed tries in the first half, only one of which was his fault.
The win also keeps Manly four points clear at the top of the ladder ahead of Penrith, who upset the Bulldogs to stay within four of the Sea Eagles.
A resolute first half from both sides resulted in a 4-all scorecard at half time as Manly failed to capitalise on a stiff breeze at their backs and several clear-cut scoring chances.
With both sides having lost a gun centre (Manly's Steve Matai to concussion from a high shot that found Matt Gillett on report, and Brisbane's Justin Hodges to a hamstring strain) during the half, Brisbane would have been happier with the level score after having weathered plenty of Manly’s attack. However, only Matai would return after half time.
The first missed opportunity for the home side, clad in blue and gold Wolverine gear, came after Brisbane put the kick-off – into the breeze – out on the full and Cherry-Evans dummied and crossed out to the right, but he lost the ball over the line. Later in the half Anthony Watmough dropped it as he crossed off a Cherry-Evans short ball almost on the same spot.
Lyon also bombed a try on the right when he was supporting a Cherry-Evans line break. The half grubbered ahead for Lyon, who didn't get the bounce he wanted and toed it forward but his kick was too big.
However he had previously scored his side's only points of the half after around 10 minutes of play when Manly went first left then right where Lyon caught the Broncos short, dummied and crossed out wide but couldn't add the extras.
Jack Reed scored Brisbane's only try, and he scored it on the left having only just been moved there in a reshuffle after Hodges' departure, with Corey Oates taking Reed's spot on the right wing.
A Ben Hunt cross field bomb found a leaping Dan Vidot, who marked the ball and laid it back for Reed to cross in the corner and level the scores after 32 minutes.
After the second half resumption the deadlock was broken after 56 minutes through one of the most amazing tries of the season.
In an almost indescribable last tackle play, Manly threw the ball through virtually every player in the side, producing offload after offload, almost being tackled several times, and going further and further backwards until it got to Lyon who spotted a gap at the right and grubbered through for Hiku to score in the corner and an 8-4 advantage.
After again having to absorb several repeat sets at their line – which eventually broke down for the frustrated Broncos through another error – Manly looked to have put the result almost beyond doubt when Foran ran through half a gap and found Stewart in support for a 14-4 lead with 10 to go.
There were some shaky moments shortly after when Foran spilled the kick-off to hand Brisbane a chance to get back in the match but the visitors were proving even more wasteful than their hosts and immediately coughed the ball up.
The only further points were added via a 78th minute penalty goal to Lyon as Manly ran out 16-4 winners.
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 16 (Lyon, Hiku, Stewart tries; Lyon 2 goals) def. Brisbane Broncos 4 (Reed try). Crowd: 12,873.