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The Sea Eagles, minus brothers Brett and Glenn Stewart and Jamie Buhrer to NSW Origin duty, escaped with an 18-10 victory in a controversy-marred clash at Brookvale Oval in Round 11.
The Roosters fell behind on the scoreboard early when Manly winger Michael Oldfield crossed in the right corner for a four-nil lead in the fifth minute. However, tries to Sam Perrett (off a cross-field bomb) and Daniel Mortimer (after some great lead-up work from BJ Leilua) saw them take a 10-4 lead at the 31-minute mark.
The Roosters defended grimly for the rest of the half and would have led at the break had it not been for a horror bounce of the Steeden off a Liam Foran chip kick that trampolined over the head of the covering Sam Perrett and into the hands of Steve Matai with two minutes before oranges. The Manly centre’s fortunate try saw the sides head to the sheds locked at 10-all.
Penrith-bound Dean Whare laid on a wonderful assist for Daniel Harrison to gift the home side a 16-10 lead with 45 minutes gone before the Roosters were denied what appeared to be a legitimate try in the 58th minute. However, video referee Pat Reynolds spied that Roosters ball carrier Brad Takairangi had charged into opposition defender Daniel Harrison with a raised elbow before he offloaded to support Daniel Mortimer, who sliced through to touch down from 20 metres out. Takairangi was penalised and placed on report and the pressure was off the Sea Eagles.
A Jamie Lyon penalty goal gave Manly an eight-point buffer with eight minutes remaining.
Fill-in fullback Whare starred for the Sea Eagles, making 108 metres and setting up Harrison’s try with a sublime short pass, while halfback Daly Cherry-Evans had his best running game of the year and made seven tackle-breaks.
Daniel Mortimer did a great job substituting for missing NSW halfback Mitchell Pearce, scoring a try and making five tackle-breaks.
However, it wasn’t a high-quality clash, with both sides making plenty of handling errors: Manly completed their sets at just 70 per cent (13 errors), marginally better than the Roosters’ 69 per cent (10 errors).