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The Manly Warringah Sea Eagles have overcome a spirited "baby" Broncos outfit at Brookvale this evening to record a gritty 18-6 win over the visitors from the north.
The Eagles started early, potting two tries in the opening 15 minutes to ensure they started with a comfortable lead, and in terms of the scoreline were never truly threatened. Those tries went to centre Nick Bradley-Qualiwawa and bullocking forward Jason King, who both scored their tries on the back of waves of attack from the home side.
The latter part of the half was all the Broncos as they continued to go on the attack but poor last tackle options seemed to let them down, and opportunity after opportunity went begging. The Eagles took their 10-0 lead to the break but Brisbane looked ready to strike at any moment.
The visitors' forward momentum was halted early in the second half, Manly Warringah crossing twice in the first ten minutes back from the break. Tries to Bradley-Qualiwawa (his second) and a pearler from man of the match Anthony Watmough saw them 18-0 ahead and looking almost unbeatable.
Not to be sold short, the "baby" Broncos, through the young Denan Kemp, tore upfield and put the visitors on the board. A conversion successful from Corey Parker - whose counterpart Matt Orford had only kicked 1 from 4 attempts - saw Brisbane draw just twelve points behind Manly with 25 minutes still remaining.
It wasn't to be for the spirited Broncos however, with either side crossing the stripe successfully again in the match, both sides denied a try in the final ten minutes by Video Referee Steve Nash.
Brisbane can take a lot of confidence out of matching it with Manly for such a period of time, while Manly continue on their merry way - a full strength side a possibility next Saturday when they face fellow table-toppers Melbourne in what could well be the match of the season. Brisbane return to Suncorp to face the Newcastle Knights, whom they defeated only a month ago in the Steel City.
LeagueUnlimited Live Commentary:
A nice but chilly night at Brookvale for this clash, set to kick off within minutes.
Just one change each for the two sides - Bronco Clifford Manua drops off the bench to make way for #19 Mick Roberts, while for Manly just a positional change sees Rose to come on and start in place of Mark Bryant, who will come off the bench.
Teams on field, ready for a start....
0 min: It's game on at Brookie - Manly with first possession running right to left.
3 min: Manly with the first penalty of the game to send them on the attack.
9 min: TRY Manly Warringah Sea Eagles After a few minutes at the Broncos line the Eagles finally crack it out wide with a try to prodigal son Nick Bradley-Qualiwawa, a player for the Eagles early in the decade who has since returned after a stint in the UK. Orford's kick is horribly out to the side. Conversion attempt by Matt Orford unsuccessful. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 4-0
13 min: TRY Manly Warringah Sea Eagles King scores for the Eagles off a perfectly weighted kick into the goalpost by halfback Matty Orford. Conversion attempt by Matt Orford successful. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 10-0
20 min: Brisbane coming up with some good sets close to the line but the fifth tackle options seemingly ending in turnovers. Neither team looking brilliant so far but Manly clearly the more confident of the two.
30 min: Some more decent end-to-end football from both sides but neither turning it into points. The odd penalty giving each side an attacking chance but defence seems to be holding.
34 min: The Broncos playing some flash footy on the Manly line and almost getting a result on a few occasions. Just short of halftime - if the visitors get on the board, this game is far from over.
HALFTIME: Manly Warringah 10 Brisbane 0 A game certainly dominated by the Sea Eagles early before Brisbane mounted some pressure in the latter part of the half. Manly turned up the heat again in the final few minutes of the half but Brisbane's good defence ensured any advance was an unwelcome one.
Second half coming up.
41 min: Back underway at Fortress Brookvale.
44 min: TRY Manly Warringah Sea Eagles The flashing centre bags a double as Manly edge further ahead early. A prolonged look by the video referee finds no problems and the try is awarded. Conversion attempt by Matt Orford unsuccessful. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 14-0
50 min: TRY Manly Warringah Sea Eagles No-one making it easy for Orford tonight to kick as Watmough crosses out wide after going it on his own. Manly really opening the gates now. Another miss as the Conversion attempt by Matt Orford unsuccessful. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 18-0
ON REPORT: Brad Thorn (Brisbane Broncos) for a dangerous tackle on Manly front-rower Jason King.
54 min: TRY Brisbane Broncos Brisbane finally in through a sensational try to fullback Denan Kemp. The game not as finished as once thought now, only two converted tries in it due to some missed goalkicks by Manly's Matt Orford. Conversion attempt by Corey Parker successful. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 18-6
64 min: VIDEO REF... NO TRY for Manly. An obstruction ruled against the Eagles after Travis Burns finds his way to the line with startling ease. Glenn Stewart is deemed to be in Ben Hannant's road and Brisbane get the penalty, and stay in the game.
70 min: A great break up the middle by Watmough brings Manly within seconds of scoring but some wild passing sees them turn over possession.
77 min: VIDEO REF - NO TRY for the fast finishing Brisbane. Parker reaches out to score but it appears he lost control over the line. Manly still up by twelve in the dying minutes at Brookvale.
79 min: The phantom siren makes himself known a minute before time.
FULLTIME: Manly Warringah 18 Brisbane 6. Manly have come away with a gritty win this evening in Monday night Football, keeping Brisbane to just a single try.