Sea Eagles left to rue slow start
It's not often a side scores 26 points against the Storm and loses, but that's exactly what happened in a bizarre contest at Lottoland with the Sea Eagles falling four points short of completing a monster comeback against the high-flying Melbournians.
The Sea Eagles were left to rue a woeful start that saw them send the opening kick-off out on the full and then concede four tries down their left edge in the first 18 minutes of the match.
Despite the rough start, Trent Barrett's men knuckled down and dominated the next 60 minutes with five of the next seven tries to fall agonisingly short of what would have been a stunning upset.
"I'm always proud of how they don't give up, but unfortunately effort alone doesn't win you games against the competition leaders," Barrett said.
"The first 20 minutes really cost us.
"We got found out with our edge defence pretty early in the game and we were a bit like deer in the headlights.
"We were way too passive on that edge (the left). There are some things that we can fix inside it so I won't totally blame those guys, but collectively we were way too passive defensively early in the game."
As poor as the Sea Eagles were in the opening quarter of the contest, they never gave up and fought their way back with three unanswered tries to get within four points with 15 minutes to play.
"I was really happy with the way they came out and won the second half," Barrett said.
"There were still some moments in the second half where we could have executed a little bit better. If one or two things went our way we probably could have jagged it at the death.
"We've got to work hard again this week to fix up those errors that we're making with and without the ball so that we aren't chasing our tails and we can compete. We are competing, but we've got a good enough side to beat those teams if we're doing everything right."
Sea Eagles skipper Daly Cherry-Evans summed it up best, likening the game to a Holden Cup curtain-raiser.
Ironically, there was no NYC game at Lottoland on Saturday with the game shifted to Pittwater Park, but the first grade sides tried their best to imitate what their less-experienced counterparts generally produce in the attack-dominated competition.
Cherry-Evans said Manly's slow start cost them in the end but was confident his side could turn it around if they fixed the little things that were holding them back.
"I can't remember too many Manly-Storm games that have reflected a 20s scoreline," he said.
"It's definitely not a physical flatness amongst the side. We're preparing very well and everything is done in that regard.
"I think it's just a matter of us making errors and letting the opposition get off to an early start. There's not too much in it – I don't think we have to look too far [because] it's our own fault. We need to change it and I'm sure we can."