Our weekly feature - The Armchair Expert - returns just in time for the finals!
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9 hours ago
Despite missing stars Ryan Girdler, Preston Campbell and captain Craig Gower to injury, the Panthers were still hot favourites to beat the Sea Eagles and despite playing poorly in the first half went to the sheds leading 12-10 at halftime.
Then in the 71st minute, with the Panthers forwards tiring, Sea Eagles captain Steve Menzies made a break and Luke Williamson was johnny-on-the-spot to receive a pass and score in the corner, giving the Sea Eagles the lead. Brett Stewart then scored in the 78th minute the Brookvale Oval faithful celebrated.
Despite the win, today's performance wasn't anything to crow about if you are a Sea Eagles fan, as they just happened to bump into the Panthers on an off day.
For the Panthers, if they are to have any hope of repeating their premiership-winning performance of last season, they will need to improve their handling.
In other match news, an injury concern hangs over star winger Luke Rooney who injured his groin in the first half and was unable to make it back onto the field.
SEA EAGLES 20 Tries: Williamson 2, Torrens, Stewart Goals: Walker 2/4 defeated PANTHERS 12 Tries: Puletua, Waterhouse Goals: Roberts 2/2
By the clock: 0 min: Kick Off
11 min: Try-Sea Eagles: Manly centre Albert Torrens scores the first try of the afternoon after Jye Mullane stops and Andrew Walker grubber from going dead in goal with Torrens on hand to score. Walker has a shocker with the conversion. Sea Eagles 4-0.
19 min: News: Both Panthers wingers Luke Lewis and Luke Rooney are down on the ground receiving attention from the Panthers trainers. At the same time Manly interchange forward Solomon Haumono is placed on report for a head slam on Rooney.
26 min: Try-Sea Eagles: Luke Williamson catches Panthers prop Martin Lang asleep in defence to plunge over from dummy half to score his 1st try of the season. Andrew Walker is successful with the conversion. Sea Eagles 10-6.
37 min: Try-Panthers: Lock Trent Waterhouse forces his way through the attempted tackle of Andrew Walker and Brett Stewart to score his 6th try of the season. Amos Roberts is successful with the conversion. Panthers 12-10.
39 min: News: Rookie fullback Brett Stewart makes a great try saving tackle on Panthers winger Luke Rooney inside the Sea Eagles 20 metre zone.
Halftime Report: In a sloppy and uneventful 1st half neither side has really stamped their mark on today's game. Also the Panthers might have to play without NSW origin winger Luke Rooney who has a groin injury.
41 min: News: John Hopoate comes up with a bellringer of a tackle on Trent Waterhouse.
58 min: News: The Panthers forwards are looking tired.
71 min: Try-Sea Eagles: After lengthy consultation with the video referee, referee Shane Hayne awards a try to Luke Williamson after he backed up a break by Steve Menzies to score in the corner. Andrew Walker is unsuccessful with the conversion. Sea Eagles 14-12.
78 min: Try-Sea Eagles: Fullback Brett Stewart scores his 6th try in 6 games in the corner to ensure that Manly can not lose the game in regulation time. Andrew Walker is successful with the conversion to wrap the game up. Sea Eagles 20-12.
In a sloppy and uneventful game neither side impressed. If these 2 sides want to be able to compete with the top sides they will both need to improve their games drastically. ----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - L Williamson (Sea Eagles) 2 - B Stewart (Sea Eagles) 1 - D Heckenberg (Sea Eagles) -----------------------------------------