Storm v Sea Eagles: Five key points
Manly break their Melbourne duck and defy their defensive record but suffer another brutal injury blow as the Storm rue the one that got away, pipped 12-10 at home on Anzac Day.
Sea Eagles finally win at AAMI Park
Finally Manly can walk out of AAMI Park with that winning feeling. Thanks to a David Williams try with nine minutes left the visitors broke a run of four games without a win in the southern state to head home with their first taste of premiership points in six weeks and their first win on the road for 2015.
The win was also the Sea Eagles' first ever win at AAMI Park in their history, a fitting gift for their travelling supporters who donned the ponchos in wet conditions to pack out the away section.
Another brutal injury blow for Manly
Even in the midst of an inspiring win Manly were dealt another devastating injury blow with Jami Buhrer set to miss the remainder of the season after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Buhrer was arguably best Manly's best before he was forced to leave the field in the hands of the trainers with 20 minutes to play.
It is cruel news for the 25-year-old who had just returned from an ACL injury in the opposite knee, which he suffered in Round 25 last year. The second-rower was in good spirits as he left AAMI Park on crutches but speaking after the match coach Geoff Toovey could not hide his disappointment.
"Initially it is not really good news, it looks like he's done his cruciate," he said.
"That is very bad news for him and the team. I thought he had a great game, he was outstanding. But the initial prognosis is his cruciate so he will be gone for the year, very tragic."
A controversial match-winner
It wouldn't be a Manly-Melbourne game without a bit of controversy. Storm fans were left up in arms in the 70th minute when Manly were awarded a repeat set 20 metres out after Tohu Harris was penalised for a late hit on kicker Kieran Foran. That decision proved a decisive one as the Sea Eagles made capitalised with Daly Cherry-Evans whipping a looping ball to Williams for the match-winner. The replay suggested the home crowd perhaps had a case for their grievance and their coach was inclined to agree to an extent.
"We looked like we were going to get one of them late in the game but somehow they found a way not to give it to us and give Manly another set and that was really crucial in the game," Craig Bellamy said.
"But having said that in the second half I don't think we didn't put our foot down as much as we should have."
Sea Eagles defy their defensive record
Manly went into the weekend with the equal worst defensive record in the Telstra Premiership but their performance on Saturday night proved just how meaningless stats can be. The Sea Eagles kept the NRL's third most potent attack scoreless in the second half as they conceded fewer than 20 points for the first time in four games. T
his was a side that ranked third for points against in 2014 and while one good performance isn't enough to announce a return to form, the resistance they showed on Saturday night was a big step in the right direction for the Sea Eagles.
Storm lose Marika magic when it mattered
In the 65th minute Marika Koroibete set off on a 30-metre kick return that had looked to launch Melbourne into a match-clinching set. However the Flying Fijian was halted by a high hit from Manly skipper Brett Stewart, who was placed on report. While replays showed the hit was seemingly accidental, Koroibete was forced off the field for the next 10 crucial minutes for a concussion test. Manly seized the opportunity and wrapped up the win with a late try of their own in the corner.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy admitted the absence of Koroibete, who had a game-high 167 metres, hurt his side in the dying moments.
"It certainly didn't help, when they scored that last try on that wing they ran it on the fifth tackle," Storm coach Craig Bellamy said.
"That was probably a moment in the game too that we didn't need, but having said that we should have defend that as well."