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The Manly Sea Eagles have defeated the Penrith Panthers by 34-16 in unconvincing fashion at CUA Stadium. The 18 point win stretches Manly's for and against buffer to 26 points over the Melbourne Storm and Melbourne now have the target of defeating South Sydney by atleast that amount to win the Minor Premiership for a third consecutive year.
Penrith were looking to send out clubs heroes Luke Priddis, Luke Rooney, Tony Puletua and Rhys Wesser on a winning note as they are all moving on next season and they shocked the Sea Eagles in the 8th minute when Puletua barged through some weak defence to score a farewell four-pointer.
Manly collected themselves to hit back immediately through veteran Steve Menzies as he posted his 177th career try and Manly then took the lead through a try to rookie David Williams who finished off a Steve Bell bust.
When Williams intercepted a wayward Nathan Smith pass to streak-away to score his second in the 26th minute Manly looked as if they would mount a considerable total. However an inspired Panthers outfit outplayed their more-fancied opponents in the back end of the first half and they were rewarded when Paul Aiton snuck over from dummy-half to score Penrith's second try.
Manly started the second half in terrible fashion as they dropped the ball at every opportunity and when debutant William Isa batted the ball back for Nathan Smith to go over untouched an upset looked on the cards.
The table-topping Sea Eagles fought off the Penrith attack as Jamie Lyon made his return from injury and was involved in all three of Manly's tries that rounded off the scoring of the game and extended the Sea Eagles Minor Premiership buffer.
The Stewart brothers collected second half tries whilst Lyon gifted Steve Bell his four-pointer through a classy flick pass to score late in the game.
Special mention to Penrith Captain Petero Civoniceva who was best on ground as he put in a trade mark monstrous performance.
The Panthers look forward to Mad-Monday as their season is officially over whilst Manly have sealed the Minor Premiership for 2008 if Melbourne fail to beat South Sydney by atleast 26 points at Olympic Park on Sunday. In comforting news for Storm fans Melbourne's average winning margin over South Sydney at Olympic Park is 34 points.
All eyes will be watching on Sunday night as Manly will have all fingers crossed that they've done enough for the coveted $100,000 bonus that comes with finishing the regular season in first position.
Match Details Manly Sea Eagles 34 def Penrith Panthers 16 Round 26 - Saturday September 6th, 2008 5:30pm Venue: CUA Stadium, Penrith Referee: Jared Maxwell Touch Judges: Adam Devcich, Russell Turner Video Referee: Graeme West Halftime: Panthers 12 Sea Eagles 18 Crowd: 6,086 Penrith Panthers 16 Tries: Tony Puletua, Paul Aiton, Nathan Smith Goals: Michael Gordon (2/3) Manly Sea Eagles 34 Tries: David Williams (2), Steve Menzies, Glenn Stewart, Brett Stewart, Steven Bell Goals: Matt Orford (4/5), Jamie Lyon (1/1) LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Petero Civoniceva (Panthers) 2 Points: Glenn Stewart (Sea Eagles) 1 Point: Anthony Watmough (Sea Eagles) Leagueunlimited.com Live Commentary
Hello and welcome to this evening's live coverage of the clash between the Penrith Panthers and the Manly Sea Eagles at CUA Stadium.
Whilst the Panthers season ends tonight they'll be looking to send out several players who are leaving the club on a good note. Plenty of speculation is brewing around the position of their coach Matt Elliot and it will be interesting to see how the players respond.
The Sea Eagles enter the match in first place and will be looking to add plenty of points to their for and against lead to put themselves in a good position for the Minor Premiership. The Melbourne Storm and Cronulla Sharks will be watching closely hoping the Panthers can cause an upset.
Contrasting team changes for this evening's match as Penrith have been hit with injuries whilst Manly see the return of one of their key players.
For Penrith Maurice Blair moves off the bench into five-eighth to replace the injured Luke Lewis. Brad Tighe has also been ruled out and in an amazing instance of poor communication William Isa had to be pulled out of the Under 20s clash at half time as the Penrith coaching staff had not been told Tighe had been ruled out the night before. Isa will make his NRL debut in the centres in jersey number 24. Frank Puletua moves onto the bench.
For Manly Shane Nuemann replaces the suspended Steve Matai in the centres whilst inspirational five-eighth Jamie Lyon returns from a long injury lay-off as he replaces Heath L'Estrange on the bench.
Following these changes the teams will line up as such:
PANTHERS: 1. Rhys Wesser 2. Luke Rooney 3. Michael Jennings 24. William Isa 5. Michael Gordon 6. Luke Lewis 7. Jarrod Sammut 8. Tony Puletua 9. Luke Priddis 10. Petero Civoniceva (c) 11. Daniel Penese 12. Trent Waterhouse 13. Nathan Smith Interchange: 14. Matthew Bell 16. Adam Woolnough 17. Paul Aiton 18. Frank Puletua
SEA EAGLES: 1. Brett Stewart 2. Michael Robertson 3. Steve Bell 23. Shane Nuemann 5. David Williams 6. Steve Menzies 7. Matt Orford (c) 8. Brent Kite 9. Matt Ballin 10. Josh Perry 11. Anthony Watmough 12. Glenn Hall 13. Glenn Stewart Interchange: 15. Mark Bryant 16. Adam Cuthbertson 17. Jason King 19. Jamie Lyon
Players coming onto the field now and Penrith will be looking to send Luke Priddis, Luke Rooney, Tony Puletua and Rhys Wesser out on a good note. The game will be played in slippery conditions but the rain has stopped for the time-being.
1 min: KICKOFF: Referee Jared Maxwell blows time-on and Manly have first use of the football.
1 min: PENALTY Manly. Priddis gives away a penalty in the second tackle of the game.
3 min: PENALTY Manly. Rhy Wesser penalised for being offside in Penriths kick chase.
5 min: PENALTY Penrith. Brett Stewart penalised for a stripping the ball. Penrith with the ball 30m out.
7 min: Goal-line Dropout Manly. Wesser dabs a grubber into the in-goal and B. Stewart has no other option but to knock it dead.
8 min: TRY Penrith Panthers Tony Puletua grabs the first try of the match in his last game for the Panthers. It was incredibly soft defence from Manly as Puletua looked like he'd been wrapped up but Glenn Stewart and Steve Menzies dropped off the tackle and he strolled over under the posts. Conversion attempt by Michael Gordon successful. Penrith Panthers 6-0
11 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles Serial try-scorer Steve Menzies make amends for his missed tackle as the Sea Eagles capitalise on a Penrith drop ball and shift it wide for Menzies to chime into the backline and slide over in the corner. Conversion attempt by Matt Orford successful. 6 all
15 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles Steve Bell collects a ball wide and bursts straight through to streak down field before giving it to David Williams to score in the corner. Conversion attempt by Matt Orford successful. Manly Sea Eagles 12-6
18 min: Civoniceva makes a good run down the middle for Penrith but a poor last tackle option see's Manly bringing the ball back on their 30m line.
21 min: Orford kicks a 40/20 and Manly have a good attacking opportunity with a scrum 18m from the Penrith line.
22 min: Watmough loses the ball as he gets up to play it and the Panthers breathe a sigh of relief. 26 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles With nothing doing for Penrith Nathan Smith throws a shocking looping pass the Williams intercepts to run away and score. Conversion attempt by Matt Orford successful. Manly Sea Eagles 18-6
29 min: A good set from Manly finishes with Robertson taking a cross-field kick wide but is tackled just before the try line.
33 min: Goal-line Dropout Penrith. Orford kicks the ball through for B. Stewart but William Isa does well to cover it and is tackled in-goal.
35 min: PENALTY Penrith. With Penrith right on the attack Steve Bell is penalised for holding the man too long in the tackle.
36 min: TRY Penrith Panthers A brilliant passage of play from Penrith puts pressure on the Sea Eagles line and they crack pretty easily as Paul Aiton dives over from dummy-half. Conversion attempt by Michael Gordon successful. Manly Sea Eagles 18-12
39 min: Nathan Smith breaks the line for Penrith and gives it to Jarrod Sammut who flings it to Michael Gordon who shows brilliant hands to reel it in.
40 min: PENALTY Manly. Manly just hold on as Blair is penalised for obstruction.
HALFTIME- Manly lead Penrith 18-12 It's been an absorbing first half at CUA Stadium as both teams have had patches of dominance. Manly have conceded a couple of soft tries and Des Hasler will be looking to ensure they get their defencive line intact as the finals series approaches. Penrith were guilty themselves of conceding an extremely soft try as Nathan Smith gave a gift intercept to David Williams for the rookie to streak away and collect a first-half double and his 12th of the year.
41 min: KICKOFF: Manly kickoff and Penrith have first use of the football in the second half.
42 min: Goal-line Dropout Manly. Good work from the Panthers earn them a repeat set at the Sea Eagles line.
43 min: TRY Penrith Panthers Sammut kicks the ball across field and debutant William Isa flies high to tap it back to Nathan Smith to score untouched. Gordon hits the post from the sideline with his conversion attempt. Conversion attempt by Michael Gordon unsuccessful. Manly Sea Eagles 18-16
46 min: Maurice Blair launces a beautiful 40/20 that Stewart had no chance to cover and Penrith have a scrum 10m from Manly's line.
47 min: Jarrod Sammut toes the ball through for himself and just as he looks to snatch the lead for Penrith the ball evades him and he knock-on over the line.
49 min: Manly are coughing the ball up at every opportunity and inviting Penrith into the game.
51 min: Penrith cop a couple of harsh calls against them in 5 minutes as this time Jarrod Sammut is ruled to have knocked-on despite replays showing he controlled the ball.
52 min: PENALTY Manly. Mark Bryant loses the ball but the video referee rules the Panthers to have held his arm playing the ball and Manly get the penalty.
53 min: PENALTY Manly. Paul Aiton cops a Josh Perry knee in a tackle and goes off gingerly. Meanwhile Manly have a penalty.
54 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles Jamie Lyon turns a ball inside for Glenn Stewart and he drives his way over the try line. Conversion attempt by Matt Orford successful. Manly Sea Eagles 24-16
57 min: A Sammut bomb goes dead and Manly have a 20m tap.
61 min: Goal-line Dropout Manly. A terrific kick from Maurice Blair just sits up in-goal and David Williams is trappe by Luke Rooney and co.
64 min: Goal-line Dropout Manly. Some brilliant hands from Penrith see the ball move wide to Luke Rooney who kicks through and Brett Stewart is tackled in-goal.
66 min: Waterhouse knocks-on and Manly are off the hook again. Penrith are doing well to get attacking opportunities but without the guidance of Luke Lewis they can't find the breakthrough play.
67 min: Goal-line Dropout Penrith. Kite offloads well for Lyon who breaks through the line and kicks over the top of Wesser who shows good pace to get back and hit it dead.
69 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles Pet play from Manly as they construct a good try with Lyon working a second-man play for Brett Stewart to fly over. Conversion attempt by Matt Orford unsuccessful. Manly Sea Eagles 28-16
71 min: Penrith have a scrum on their 20m line as Ballin throws a forward pass to Orford.
74 min: PENALTY Manly. Penrith penalised for holding the man down too long and Manly have a tap on halfway.
76 min: Poor set from Manly as Orford is tackled with the ball. Manly haven't been at their best tonight but they should win comfortably.
77 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles Touch of brilliance from Jamie Lyon as he takes the line on fro the scrum and flicks the ball on for Bell to streak away for a try. Could that try seal the Minor Premiership for Manly? Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful. Manly Sea Eagles 34-16
79 min: PENALTY Manly. Sammut pops up a 5m kickoff and Manly have one last chance to score.
80 min: Forward pass from Manly and Penrith have a scrum on their 30m line.
FULLTIME- Manly Sea Eagles 34 defeated Penrith Panthers 16