The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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In a tough, and sometimes lacklustre match, the Manly Sea Eagles have beaten the Melbourne Storm 20-14 in front of a respectable crowd at Brookvale Oval. This is two wins in a row for Manly, who look to be improving after their victory over the Dragons last week, following their capitulation to Wests Tigers two rounds ago.
Melbourne were in the driver's seat early, racking up an 8-0 lead through tries to gun rookie Billy Slater and the storming Semi Tadulala. But failed conversions left the Storm in a precarious position, and Manly took advantage of this, hitting back through Scott Donald in the 17th minute. With Ferris adding the extras, the Eagles were back in the game. Seven minutes later, poor discipline cost the Storm with Ferris landing a penalty goal and levelling the scores.
The game remained at 8-all for the rest of the half, with both teams having chances but not being able to convert. Frustration crept in to both camps, but the heavy pitch conditions conspired to errors on each side of the field.
The second half was a similar story, with the Storm making a great start in the 48th minute with some great lead up work through Scott Hill off-loading in heavy traffic to set-up Robbie Ross. The Storm took charge at 14-8, but not for long. Manly hit back soon after, locking up the clash with a clever try to Brendon Reeves.
For the next 15 minutes, the game went back and forth but it appeared Melbourne had the upper hand but failed to convert their ascendency. Hill was enigmatic during this period, creating opportunities but with no one else stepping up, Manly took advantage and snatched the game.
A great set play from Ferris promoted the ball to MacDougall at short range, who found Donald on the outside. The winger flew away for his second try of the game with five minutes left. At this point the Storm were out on their feet and Manly held them out to take the points.
In a clash that was there for the taking, Melbourne would be very disappointed with themselves. They started well, but couldn't find another gear to click into and it consequently cost them the match. Manly will be proud of their effort however, after they fought back from an early deficit.
League Unlimited Player of the Year Awards
Jason Ferris - 3 points Scott Hill - 2 points Steve Menzies - 1 point.
By the Clock.
6 min: TRY - Melbourne. Billy Slater goes over out wide after the Storm occupy Manly's danger zone and apply pressure. Slater's 5th for the year. Storm 4-0.
8 min: Marty Turner just misses from the sideline. Score line remains Storm 4-0.
11 min: TRY - Melbourne. Semi Tadulala scores a nifty try after some clever lead up work from Matt Geyer. Storm lead 8-0.
12 min: Turner makes a mess of a difficult kick. Storm 8-0.
17 min: Scott Donald crashes over the line in the corner. Referred to the video ref and is awarded a try. Questionable pass, but the four-pointer is on the board. Storm lead 8-4.
18 min: Jason Ferris kicks a beauty from the sideline. Storm 8-6.
24 min: Ferris boots a penalty goal from 30m out. Scores level at 8-all.
39 min: Steve Menzies goes over after a chip ahead from Donald. Video Referee denies the four-pointer after Donald knocks the kick on. No change of score.
Gritty match with it's share of errors. Manly looking enterprising after a slow start. Melbourne appears to be tiring on the heavy pitch. Even match all round.
48 min: TRY - Melbourne. Scott Hill works some magic and creates a nice break that's finished off by Robbie Ross. Storm 12-8.
50 min: Cameron Smith converts from in front. Storm 14-8.
61 min: TRY - Manly. Brendon Reeves charges over after great lead-up work from Ben Walker and Steve Menzies. Storm 14-12
62 min: Walker converts. Scores locked at 14-all.
76 min: TRY - Manly. Donald goes over for another after a great set play from Ferris and MacDougall creates space on the left flank. Eagles 18-14.
76 min: Walker converts. Eagles 20-14. Looks to be the match winner.
Manly overcome Melbourne in a dour struggle. The Eagles now have two in a row, with Melbourne needing to improve on their away form.