Jesse Sene-Lefao and Ligi Sao celebrate Manly's Round 23 win over the Raiders.

The Sea Eagles' dazzling late-season run continued in Canberra thanks to big-game experience and some good fortune as the Raiders went down in another close contest.  

Report: Sea Eagles continue run to finals

 

Football gods start to smile on Manly

Despite the Raiders getting very lucky with one of their tries and also scoring an 80-metre intercept try, Manly coach Geoff Toovey was sure that the luck was going his way by the end of Manly's spirited victory in Canberra.

"It was a funny game, I don't think either coach will be too impressed with the whole thing," Toovey said. 

"It ebbed and flowed I though we could have kicked away when we were 16-nil up. 

"We let them back in the match before half-time and straight after half-time all of a sudden their confidence is up and they score a couple more tries. 

"We're down with 10 minutes to go and I think the football gods were smiling on us a little bit but we'll take that because it hasn't been good to us most of the year."

Groundhog day for the Raiders

Canberra coach Ricky Stuart was devastated after another bitterly close lose at home this season. 

Without giving away too much detail he reflected on what is surely a worrying trend for the Raiders: their inability to close out the tight games. 

"It's been a very common occurrence this year... we should have won it, simple as that, dance around it as much as you want we should have won," Stuart said.

Stuart also refused to be drawn into the reasons why his team is struggling in the area, but revealed that he does have his own thoughts on why it's happening.  

"I've got my thoughts on it but it's not the time to discuss it now," he said.

 

 

A win to forget for Toovey

It was a remarkably entertaining game of football in brilliant conditions on Sunday afternoon, but Toovey certainly wasn't overly impressed by the efforts of his troops.

"I don't take too much (away from that game)," Toovey said. 

"We've been on a high for probably a month now and I think it showed a bit with the players so I think we'll take a bit of luck out of that and good fortune and we snuck away with a lucky victory." 

Asked if it will be a game that his side looks back on as a major result in the context of their season, Toovey insisted it was a game he'd prefer not to touch on again.

"I think we forget about it and move on," he said. 

Manly show character to stay in the game

With the Raiders scoring 24 unanswered points to take an eight-point lead into the final 10 minutes of the match, Manly captain Jamie Lyon was proud of his team for hanging in and eventually snatching victory late on.  

"There was a little bit of talk behind the line there [when we went eight down] we were still confident there that we could get the two points back," Lyon said.

"I thought the guys really showed some character there to hang in the match and play the full 80."

Lyon was also proud of the way his teammates managed to brush off a few late game errors, including a forward pass call against Matt Ballin which left the Manly skipper furious.

"We had a couple of opportunities and let them off," he said. 

"We made up for those [mistakes] and really showed character to stay in the game."

 

 

Experience wins out in the end

It should come as no surprise that Manly had the final laugh in this tight clash, considering their huge advantage in big-game, big-moment experience.

And it was certainly no surprise that the two superstars of their team Daly Cherry-Evans and Brett Stewart were the ones to land the final blow, Stewart's late game-winner a welcome tonic for his earlier mistake which gifted the Raiders a try.  

"I think he just wanted to keep the fans entertained," Toovey said of Stewart's error/try combination. 

"Look it's a simple mistake I suppose that he doesn't normally make but you saw the class of those types of players at the end to snatch the victory."