Teenage Eels silence critics and put Manly's season on life support - 3 big hits

Teenage Eels silence critics and put Manly’s season on life support – 3 big hits

Parramatta all but ended Manly’s season with an emphatic 36-20 victory at a sold-out Brookvale Oval on Friday night.

The win represented a try of the season candidate and moved the Eels above the Broncos into fifth place on the ladder with four rounds remaining.

MATCH CENTRE: Sea Eagles vs Eels, stats, video, teams

The Eels burst out of the blocks, winger Maika Sivo scoring two tries in the opening eight minutes to stun a pumping home crowd.

Sivo went through both tries untouched and with Mitchell Moses sidelined, the kicking duties fell to Clint Gutherson who missed.

But Manly then scored 14 unanswered points as the sides went into half-time level at 14-14.

The Sea Eagles struck against the run of play when Daly Cherry-Evans planted a kick for Toluatau Koula to fly over the pack to score in the 20th minute.

Manly then kicked a penalty to equalize before Jason Saab sensationally finished in the corner and Reuben Garrick converted to make it 14-8.

“What an amazing turnaround after all the pressure the Eels put them through,” said Greg Alexander on Fox League.

Parramatta center Tom Opacic finished off a well-worked team try in the 33rd minute to seal the score.

Manly struck first in the second half when Christian Tuipulotu drilled over in the corner.

Garrick awarded a penalty in front of the posts in the 54th minute to make it 20-14 before Eels winger Waqa Blake scored an incredible try.

Blake used every inch at his disposal to get one of the best finishes of the season over the top of Morgan Harper.

Munster play at full-back with a hat-trick | 00:54

“That’s an unbelievable try, he got the ball way over his head, morgan harper crushed him, but he still got the ball into the corner,” Alexander said.

“It’s a blade of grass from the touch in the goal,” Voss replied.

Eels captain Clint Gutherson then scored from long range after Shaun Lane broke the line and offloaded to his skipper who raced away.

“Shaun Lane had 10 assists this year, it’s been a very successful year for him down the left wing,” Alexander said.

Eels center Will Penisini scored after pouncing on a clever grubber from Jakob Arthur, before Dylan Brown sealed the deal in the 71st minute.

Here are the three highlights of the match.

AS ARTHUR SILENCES CRITICISM

The coach’s son has endured plenty of criticism this season, but with the game on the line against Manly, Jakob Arthur has delivered.

Athur was booed by his own fans just two weeks ago, responding in emphatic fashion when he came on for the injured Mitch Moses.

The 19-year-old set up two key tries in the second half, including a try of the season candidate scored by Waqa Blake.

“The pass he made to Waqa Blake to score in the corner, to have the nerve and confidence to throw it … you have to come up with the perfect pass,” Corey Parker said on Fox League.

Blake gets TOTY in 150th game! | 00:45

“To do that at a crucial moment in the game was a great confidence builder for him. If there was any doubt about Jakob Arthur, then he put it to bed.”

Mick Ennis, who spent time coaching at the Eels, echoed the sentiment and urged any critics of Athura to go and see the work he is putting in.

“I honestly say to everybody, if you have any question marks about Jakob Arthur, go to Kellyville for a week and watch the Parramatta train,” Ennis said.

“Anyone can go there and I guarantee you he and Will Penesini have to be dragged off the field every day they have practice. They are always out there working on their game.

“Jake is a champion and I’m really proud of him tonight.

GUTHO AND BROWN STAND TALL

Clint Gutherson and Dylan Brown started confidently and leading playmaker Mitchell Moses was sidelined with a hand injury.

Gutherson ran for 179 metres, had three assist tries, two linebreaks, three tackles and a score, while Brown also cruised and led the team around the park.

“He came in without Mitch, he came in as the main playmaker,” coach Brad Arthur said.

Greg Alexander was equally impressed, while fellow Fox League commentator Andrew Voss backed his form heading into the World Cup at the end of the year.

“It’s his eighth try of the season, Dylan Brown’s improvement between 2021 and 2022 is dramatic,” Alexander said.

“Is it all about duty of care?” | 01:16

“If you look at what he’s done, the attempted assists, the lines, he’s more than tripled his attempted assists this year. He is a much more successful player this year.

“I just chalked it up to youth and experience, he’s stepped up this year, there’s been a lot of talk about where he’s been, we really haven’t seen a lot of it until this year.”

Voss believes New Zealand can fight back against Brown, who steers the ship.

“I’ll tell you what excites me, it’s a World Cup year, this guy at six in New Zealand, playing like that, it could be good times for the Kiwis,” he said.

MANLY’S SEASON hanging in the balance

The Sea Eagles no longer control their own destiny and must win their remaining four games to have any chance of playing in the finals.

Manly are now four points and a significant point difference outside the top eight, with games against the Titans, Sharks, Raiders and Bulldogs remaining.

“We need to win four out of four to give ourselves a chance,” coach Des Hasler said when asked what the loss meant for his team’s season.

“I haven’t done the math, but anything less won’t work. We have the players to do it and we just have to find a way.

Manly Press Conference | 03:23

“We were in a position to win tonight and we didn’t and we can’t afford to.

The Sea Eagles have now lost three in a row amid the pride controversy that rocked the club last week.

“Yeah, it was a tough (week), but you have to go out there and come up with a big game,” Hasler said.

“There were a few times I thought we let ourselves down defensively so taxed or not that we weren’t going to make excuses.

Fox League pundits Corey Parker and Mick Ennis said the Sea Eagles’ finals prospects are “in trouble”.

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