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Late Matai try breaks Parra hearts

Late Matai try breaks Parra hearts

In a weekend full of last-gasp wins, Manly scored in the final minute at Brookvale Oval to break Parramatta's hearts after the Eels had launched a stunning second-half fightback.

With Manly going to the break up 10-nil following a scrappy first half from both sides, the Eels found their mojo in the second, scoring four tries to Manly's one up until a last-minute try to Steve Matai put Manly up 20-18, Jamie Lyon nailing the conversion to make it 22-18 to the home side.


The Eels started brightly in the first half and showed plenty of attacking intent but were unable to convert any of several genuine chances.

Nathan Peats made his presence felt early on his return from a one-match club suspension with a huge hit on Jamie Lyon in the second minute of play and another crunching tackle on the much bigger Justin Horo late in the half.

Jarryd Hayne was dangerous early, contributing to several Eels line breaks despite looking to be troubled by a heavily-strapped left ankle.

Debutant Tony Satini replaced regular pivot Kieran Foran, who was ruled out with a calf complaint on the day of the game and joined Brett Stewart and Jorge Taufua on the sidelines.

The boot of Daly Cherry-Evans was the main difference between the Eels and an under strength Sea Eagles outfit early, with a series of deadly chips and grubbers regularly pinning the Eels into their own in-goal.

The first points came in the seventh minute on the back of a penalty against the Eels, with Manly able to catch Parramatta well short with a left side play. Stand in fullback Peta Hiku did his best Brett Stewart impression, collecting a Lyon pass and drawing defenders to put Steve Matai over untouched.

Former Manly premiership-winning forward David Gower had an unhappy return to Brookvale, losing possession on a couple of occasions and it was a penalty he conceded from a sideways play the ball that put Manly in range for their second try.

With the Eels pinned in their own end Manu Ma'u dropped the ball in the Eels red-zone and Hiku was able to stroll through a scattered line then burrow over to make it 10-nil to the home side.

Despite launching several more attacking raids, including a long break to Semi Radradra down the left edge, the Eels managed to squander every opportunity by being tackled on the last, forcing passes that headed into touch, or kicking too deep, going to the break 10-nil down.

They started the second half perfectly, cashing in on their first real attacking opportunity when winger Vai Toutai crashed over inside the right hand goalpost.

Joseph Paulo shanked the conversion and he also missed the next two to finish with one from four, a critical weakness for the Eels in such a close game.

Parramatta had their second and trailed 10-8 when Paulo and then Willie Tonga combined to put blockbusting Fijian winger Semi Radradra into space, beating David Williams and then Peta Hiku to score a muscular try.

Manly pulled away again in the 58th minute when, after several sets of pressure, captain and stand-in five-eighth Jamie Lyon strolled through and converted his own try to make it 16-8, but in a complete turnaround from their mentality in a 56-4 capitulation to the Roosters a week earlier, the Eels refused to lie down and hit back yet again.

Radradra earned his second in the 67th minute following a surge downfield, with Hayne getting it to Tonga who looked to have held it too long but managed to offload to Radradra who was again too strong for the defence.

Things got worrying for Manly when the Eels hit the lead in the 73rd minute following an indescribable passage of play that went through most of the players on the left side of the field, before a Radradra grubber and regather and offload found Hayne, who got it away for Nathan Peats to score his first try in Eels colours. Paulo finally kicked a conversion from almost in front to put the Eels up 18-16 with six minutes to play.

A crucial 77th minute penalty against Radradra for a high shot in the act of tackling Cherry-Evans in-goal let the Sea Eagles off the hook and allowed them to charge downfield, Cherry-Evans launching the cross field bomb that would allow Matai to break Parramatta hearts in the final minute.

Manly 22 (Matai 2, Hiku, Lyon tries, Lyon 3 goals) def Parramatta 18 (Radradra 2, Peats Toutai tries, Paulo goal). Crowd 14,135.

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