By Jamie Anderson at Leichhardt Oval
The Manly Warringah Sea Eagles kept their slim finals chances alive with a comprehensive 54-22 victory over the North Sydney Bears at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday.
In a match where the points being scored were largely keeping up with the minutes on the time keepers stop watch, it was the Sea Eagles who were doing most of the damage.
A three try effort by two time NSW Under 20 Origin representative, Clinton Gutherson, was supported by the likes of Jamil Hopoate and Manaia Rudolph who were also excellent on the day.
Prior to kick-off, the Bears were boosted by the inclusion of young Luke Keary who was returning from a long stint on the sidelines, although his inclusion was offset by the fact that both Lote Tuqiri and Luke Burgess had gone around for the Bunnies at ANZ Stadium the night before.
Gutherson scored the first of his three tries in the third minute after he won the race to a beautifully placed Rudolph kick, however the scores were locked up at six a piece in the 13th minute when a Worboys kick landed perfectly in the bread basket of a high flying Curtis Johnston.
Unfortunately though for the Bears, this was to be as close as they would get to Manly on the day.
A blitzkrieg of four tries in the space of nine minutes to Manly, where the Bears could not get their hands on the ball, effectively ended the match as a contest.
Tries to Hopoate, Chee Kam and Hodges, as well as a second to Gutherson, saw the Sea Eagles take a commanding 28-6 lead approaching the half time break.
Just when all appeared lost for the Bears, they gave their supporters some reason for optimism as another pin point Worboys kick found a winger, this time the right winger in O’Dare, saw the margin cut to 16 points at the break.
Needing to score first to have any hope, the Bears did just that as McInnes scored near the posts, and with the Keary conversion you felt we had a match on our hands.
However, all the Bears try did, was spur the Sea Eagles back into action again.
Five unanswered tries to Manly, some of which were scored far too easily for the North Sydney Bears coaching staff’s liking, ended the match as a contest and handed the side from the northern beaches their fourth win of the year and brought them to within three competition points of the eighth placed Jets.
As we alluded to earlier, Gutherson, Rudolph and Hopoate were dangerous all day long in a match that played to suit the speedsters while Worboys stood out for the Bears, laying on three of their four tries on the day.
Next weekend the Bears will be back at home on the Sunday when they host the ladder leading Panthers while Manly face a tough trip down to Remondis Stadium to tackle the Sharks on Saturday afternoon.
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 54 (C Gutherson 3, J Hodges 2, T Satini, D Reardon, M Chee Kam, J Hopoate, J Horo tries; M Rudolph 7 goals) def. North Sydney Bears 22 (M O'Dare 2, C Johnston, C McInnes tries; L Keary 2, C Grevsmuhl goals) at Leichhardt Oval.