Eels edge Sea Eagles to top Piha Pool
The Eels have survived a frantic comeback by Manly's new recruits to advance from the pool stage with a 17-12 win to set up a showdown with the Titans in the quarter-finals.
Despite being without stars Corey Norman and Semi Radradra, the Eels were the first team on the board as new recruit Nathan Brown latched onto his own grubber that was deflected and then ricocheted off the post to score in the bonus zone.
The blue and golds moved further ahead when try-scoring machine Bevan French scooped up a loose ball to give his side an 11-nil lead at the break.
The Sea Eagles hit back through Akuila Uate whose first try in Manly colours cut the gap to seven points before fellow new-recruit Curtis Sironen made it three tries from as many games to set up a grandstand finish.
It was fitting that Brian Kelly – who played for the Titans last year – crossed to give Manly the shock lead, only for stand-in skipper Tepai Moeroa to crash over late to see Parramatta advance from the pool stage unbeaten.
Eels 17 (Nathan Brown, Bevan French, Tepai Moeroa tries; 2 goals) def. Sea Eagles 12 (Akuila Uate, Curtis Sironen, Brian Kelly tries). Half-time: 11-0.