BY CURTIS WOODWARD
No Tom Trbojevic, no Addin Fonua-Blake, no Dylan Walker – no worries for the Manly Sea Eagles who held on for a gutsy victory on Saturday night against the premiership-leading Parramatta Eels at Brookvale Oval.
Things didn’t go all Manly’s way but such has been the way for Des Hasler’s side in 2020.
Incredibly, another officiating blunder burnt the home side in the 54th minute when Waqa Blake was awarded a try after the Bunker decided that the Parramatta centre didn’t steal the ball from Martin Taupau in a two-on-one tackle.
Fans, experts and even players took to social media to blow up.
It was a poor decision.
Thankfully Manly won the game in the end.
And it was a moment late in the piece that best summed up the Sea Eagles performance.
With the Eels stretching Manly and on the attack, barnstorming Eels winger Maika Sivo took a pass and looked up and saw Eagles centre Brad Parker in front of him.
Sivo tried to charge over the top of him but Parker held his ground and hammered him with everything he had and stopped Sivo in his tracks.
The big Fijian didn’t get up.
This is Manly in a nutshell.
Parramatta never deserved to win.
The right team got the points.
Manly’s victory came on a day of high drama in the NRL.
Earlier, Newcastle rolled the Rabbitohs 20-18 at Parramatta despite a second half resurgence from South Sydney.
The Rabbitohs sit 8th on the live premiership ladder but it is clear Souths have plenty of work to do. They are a good team but need to find more.
Newcastle continue to improve.
They are now in the top four.
Their star fullback Kalyn Ponga was superb and needed a response after being criticised during the week by the greatest Knight of them all, Andrew Johns.
“I think Kalyn needs to expand on the way he plays. Teams do so much homework on the best players so I think you have to evolve the way you play, and I think Kalyn maybe hasn’t evolved his game,” Johns said on a Wide World of Sports podcast.
“The last couple of weeks especially he’s been quiet.”
Not so much this weekend.
The early game saw St George Illawarra steal it against Canterbury in Wollongong.
Somehow the Dragons are just one win outside the top 8.
Realistically though, right now, the NRL is a race in six.
The Eels and the Penrith Panthers have been awesome but Melbourne and the Roosters are lurking. Newcastle proved their credentials again against Souths while Canberra aren’t going to go away.
Manly and Souths are knocking on the door.
There’s too many unknowns about the 7th place Wests Tigers to consider them a legitimate threat.
Penrith have sat back and watched the rest of the round and have an opportunity tomorrow to really flex.
They play the lowly Cowboys and a win would see them go outright first on the table.
Nothing but a victory would be acceptable at Panthers Stadium especially after what we’ve seen from the other heavyweights so far in round 10.
How lucky we are to have such a close competition with so many different storylines and premiership contenders.
God bless the greatest game of all.