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Manly's unhappy start to their premiership defence has continued, going down to the Penrith Panthers 12 points to 10 in front of a disappointing crowd of 8667 at Brookvale Oval tonight.
Manly enjoyed much of the possession in the opening exchanges, as Penrith weren't showing a lot in attack, handing over possession relatively cheaply.
Come the 18th minute, exit Jarrod Sammut, enter Wade Graham.
The young half reinvigorated Penriths attack, giving them many more options and placing a lot more pressure on Manlys defensive line.
Manly grabbed first points in the 20th after five-eighth Chris Bailey burrowed underneath some flimsy defence.
Following that point, it was one way traffic with Penrith enjoying most of the possession and the game largely being played in Manlys half.
From the 28th minute through to the 34th, Penrith had six consecutive sets on Manlys line. It took a world class defensive line to deny the Panthers time after time, and Manly showed they were certainly up to the task.
However all that defence would eventually take its toll on the premiers, who could count themselves lucky to still be leading 6-0 at the break.
Following the break, both teams were forced to change their game plans as they were greeted from the sheds with pouring rain.
Penrith were the team to better cope with the weather, muscling up in defence to force mistakes from Manly.
It wasn't long after the break before all that extra work in defence in the first half started to show, with Lewis stepping through the line and over for the try in the 44th, only to be called back for an obstruction play.
Consecutive miscued kicks from Manly kept the pressure on their defencive line, however they continued to hold strong.
Their attack still hadn't adjusted for the weather, with Manly persisting to play dry track football heavy with offloads that repeatedly went to ground, handing over possession cheaply to Penrith in very good field position.
Penrith finally capitalised on all their chances in the 57th when Frank Pritchard, having killed a certain try scoring opportunity only moments earlier, released a beautiful offload to Lachlan Coote for the try.
Even though they were on level terms, Manly started to panic, and more and more balls went to ground.
Penrith, however, kept a cool head, grinding away at the Manly defensive line, before Masada Iosefa dived over from dummy half in the 68th to give Penrith the lead.
That Penrith try was the wake up call that Manly needed, finally getting their attack in order just in time for Orford to throw a long ball in the 73rd out to Bailey who grabbed the double out wide.
The missed conversion from Orford proved the difference between the two, as both teams threw everything they had at eachother in the final five, with their respective defencive lines holding strong.
The win is Penriths first for the season, while Manly have begun their premiership defence in the worst possible fashion, going 0 from 3 and losing star centre Jamie Lyon to a possible medial ligament injury.
Match Details Penrith Panthers 12 def Manly Sea Eagles 10 Round 3 :: Monday, March 30th, 2009 Venue: Brookvale Oval Crowd: 8,667 Referee: Ben Cummins & Phil Haines Sideline Officials: Alan Shortall & Jeff Younis Video Referee: Chris Ward Halftime: Sea Eagles 6-0
Manly Sea Eagles 10 Tries: Chris Bailey (2) Goals: Matt Orford (1/2) Penrith Panthers 12 Tries: Lachlan Coote, Masada Iosefa Goals: Michael Gordon (2/2)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Luke Lewis (Panthers) 2 Points: Wade Graham (Panthers) 1 Point: Lachlan Coote (Panthers)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Brookvale Oval the venue for tonight's clash, both teams winless in 2009 before tonight - that will change for one side.
Team changes have been finalised and they will run out as below:
SEA EAGLES: 1. Michael Robertson 2. Michael Bani 3. Jamie Lyon 4. Steve Matai 5. Shane Neumann 6. Chris Bailey 7. Matt Orford (c) 8. Brent Kite 9. Matt Ballin 10. Josh Perry 11. Anthony Watmough 12. Glenn Hall 13. Glenn Stewart Interchange: 14. Heath L