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4 days ago
Despite keeping the Melbourne Storm scoreless after halftime, the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles have been unable to bridge a 14-point deficit at the change of ends, succumbing 30-26 at Lottoland in front of 10,000 fans.
The writing was on the wall from the opening moments of the contest for Manly - the kickoff was marked dead by the Storm which gave the visitors a penalty on halfway and with quick hands to the right at the end of the first set, the Storm were able to post points through a Suliasi Vunivalu try.
Young Tonumaipea added to the tally after eight minutes, then Vunivalu wasted no time book-ending that try with his second in the 14th. When Josh Addo-Carr benefited from a break down the touchline from his opposite winger, the Storm seemed to be racing the clock with little resistance from Manly.
But it was around that time the foot came off the Storm pedal - Frank Winterstein barging over in the 22nd minute sparked a minor Manly comeback and when Jorge Taufua crossed in the 27th, the Sea Eagles suddenly looked like the real deal.
Not content with a six-point lead after all their early hard work, the visitors went further ahead through back-to-back, near identical tries to Felise Kaufusi after fullback Billy Slater held up defenders at the line before putting 'Fus' into a yawning gap on both occasions.
Manly were able to get back on the scoreboard once more right on the halftime break, Brian Kelly rolling over the line as the siren went after selling a couple of dummies on the left edge.
Trailing 30-16 the Sea Eagles needed a strong second half to be any hope of a result - and a 50th minute try to Jake Trbojevic was just what a frustrated Trent Barrett would've wanted to see, with the lock forward scoring off a well placed offload from brother Tom to reduce the margin to ten points.
With the 10,144 fans making plenty of noise the hosts crossed again in the 65th minute, Aku Uate going high in an aerial contest before delivering it gift-wrapped to an unmarked Brenton Lawrence for Manly's fifth try.
The remainder of the contest was a tense, nervy affair as the Storm restored the old "purple wall" and several errors crept in - but no further points. Clever kicking in the final moments from Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith ensured the home team got no real chances in the final minutes.
Manly are off to Canberra next weekend where they'll face the Green Machine, while the Storm have an extended lay-off before they close out Round 8 on Tuesday week against the Warriors at home.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 26 - Melbourne Storm 30
Halftime Score: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 16 Melbourne Storm 30
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Cameron Smith
2 points - Jake Trbojevic
1 points - Felise Kaufusi
MANLY-WARRINGAH SEA EAGLES (26)
Tries: Frank Winterstein, Jorge Taufua, Brian Kelly, Jake Trbojevic, Brenton Lawrence
Conversions: Dylan Walker (3/5)
MELBOURNE STORM (30)
Tries: Suliasi Vunivalu (2), Young Tonumaipea, Josh Addo-Carr, Felise Kaufusi (2)
Conversions: Cameron Smith (3/6)