Eels dent Manly's finals hopes
The soar of the Sea Eagle has finally been halted and it came in what should have been another win in front of the Brookvale Oval faithful, losing 20-16 at the hands of the Parramatta Eels.
In eerie, wet conditions on Sunday afternoon, Manly showed nothing of the class that has seen them win their previous four matches straight.
The slippery ball foiled their attacking brilliance, Cherry-Evans and Foran having a far more diminished involvement.
In the final 20 minutes of the match both teams were guilty of playing the conditions poorly, as the game descended into an error-ridden struggle with few glimpses of brilliance.
But the Eels were just good enough to hold on for a gutsy victory at the back end of a tumultuous season, a result that gives them some breathing room at the bottom of the ladder.
Parramatta were the first on the scoreboard, Semi Radradra striking down the left wing to finish off a 30-metre movement.
But the Sea Eagles would hit back thanks to an amazing solo effort from Kieran Foran who sent Steve Matai up with his 50th try at Brookvale Oval, a feat only accomplished by four other players in Manly history.
The 20th minute four-pointer was handed to the hard-hitting Matai on a plate though, Foran's run was brilliant, his step on Reece Robinson leaving the Eels fullback slipping over and clutching at thin air in the dewy conditions.
A perfect pass from Corey Norman gave the Eels the advantage back moments later though, as big Radradra went in again.
Meanwhile as Luke Kelly lined up the subsequent kick for goal Matt Ballin limped off with a leg injury leaving Manly without any obvious replacement at hooker.
Peta Hiku made something out of nothing to hit back for the Sea Eagles, it was a tough run to score in the corner but the winger's try was equally down to some poor defensive work for the Eels.
Radradra and Norman knocked each other over in an attempt to get to Hiku, allowing a try that drew parallels to the famous Steven Bradbury Olympic skating victory.
Manu Ma'u crashed over just before half-time to continue the try-for-try pattern in the first half, the big Kiwi benefiting from a big gap in the Manly defence and was too big and strong to be stopped by the cover defence.
Luke Kelly's conversion miss left the game at 14-10 to the Eels at half-time.
A barge over try immediately after resumption had the Manly faithful very nervous, the normally sturdy Sea Eagles defence was too easily breached as Bureta Faraimo powered over.
And the bad news would continue for the 11,000 hardy fans at Brookie, Ballin's unfortunate night getting worse in the 45th minute as he was forced off with a left knee injury for the second time in the match.
But the bad luck would soon turn around as future Eel James Hasson capitalised on a Parramatta mistake near their own line to toe the ball through and snare a four-pointer out of nowhere.
But that would be as good as the Manly attack would get in the second half, as they failed to catch their opponents with some poor attacking tactics.
Parramatta Eels 20 (Semi Radradra 2, Manu Ma'u, Bureta Faraimo tries; Luke Kelly 2 goals) defeated Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 16 (Steve Matai, Peta Hiku, James Hasson 3 tries; Jamie Lyon 2 goals) at Brookvale Oval. Crowd: 11,018.