The Sea Eagles defeated the Storm 18-4 in Round 25 last season in an emotion-charged game that will forever be remembered as the ‘battle of Brookvale’.
Ugly scenes of Glenn Stewart and Adam Blair given their marching orders were tempered by Storm players shielding and comforting Manly winger David Williams, who broke a vertebrae in his neck midway through the first half.
Manly five-eighth Kieran Foran posted the game’s first points, coming from the clouds to pounce on a Jamie Lyon centre-field kick in the fifth minute to score one of the best tries of the season. Foran initiated the play with a bomb for left winger Michael Robertson, who batted the ball back infield while his body was over the sideline. The ball was passed between a procession of Sea Eagles before Daly Cherry-Evans spiralled a long pass to Lyon on the right flank, with the centre hoisting a hopeful kick towards the goalposts. The Storm’s backs appeared to have the Steeden covered but an awkward bounce propelled it into the hands of Foran for a remarkable try.
A Lyon penalty after the Stewart/Blair fracas edged the Sea Eagles to an 8-nil lead after 27 minutes and when Tony Williams, filling in on the right wing for injured namesake David, scored shortly after, the Sea Eagles headed to the dressing sheds with a 14-nil advantage.
Any chance of a Storm revival was snuffed out when Williams bagged his second try in the right corner with 56 minutes gone.
Melbourne were fortunate to avoid a whitewash on the evening, only getting on the scoreboard when Billy Slater slid through some complacent defence to score with six seconds remaining.
Key to the Sea Eagles victory was their dominant attack, with their players making four line-breaks to Melbourne’s one (to Slater).
Second-rower Shane Rodney had his best game in the maroon and white, making 17 hit-ups for 178 metres, plus a line-break.
Billy Slater ran the ball fiercely, making 10 tackle-breaks and 146 metres.