By Nathan Beuman at Brookvale Oval
The Manly Sea Eagles have dealt a major blow to the Newtown Jets chances of making the playoffs in 2014, with a 38-18 win at Brookvale Oval.
Manly’s Clinton Gutherson had a field day at the back, scoring a first half hat trick in his return from an ankle injury, helping the Sea Eagles snap an eight game losing streak.
Despite a brief period late in the second half while both sides were reduced to 12 men following a brouhaha, Manly’s goal line defence was solid, holding the Jets to just one try in the opening 50 minutes of play.
While Newtown dominated early possession, it was the home side that drew first blood, when Daniel Harrison put Dylan Kelly into a gap on the left edge, putting Manly up 6-0 after ten minutes following Gutherson’s conversion from the touchline.
A double to Gutherson in the space of eight minutes quickly saw the Sea Eagles jump out to a three converted try lead, leaving the Newtown faithful stunned.
Just when it looked as though the Jets were finally about to crack Manly’s goal line defence, Delroy Berryman intercepted a long looping pass from Scott Dureau, before running 70 metres and giving the ball to his fellow winger Dominic Reardon.
Jack Littlejohn kept the scoreboard ticking over by knocking over the two points, giving the Sea Eagles a 24-0 lead with just under ten minutes remaining in the half.
Reardon managed to find his way through some soft Jets defence two minutes before half time, before giving it off to Gutherson, securing the fullback a first half treble.
Littlejohn had no trouble converting from right next to the uprights, giving Manly a healthy 30 point lead just before the break.
Much to the disappointment of the Sea Eagles coaching staff, Newtown managed to bag a four pointer right on the siren, with winger Brett Lane running 50 metres to open the scoring for the Jets.
Nathan Stapleton pushed the conversion wide, sending the Bluebags into the sheds 26 points in arrears.
Manly continued their assault after the break, spreading it out wide to replacement player Mitchell Manson to go over in the corner, pushing the lead back out to 34-4, after Littlejohn was unable to add the extras.
It took an exchange of fisticuffs between Jack Littlejohn and David Harris in the 50th minute to fire up the Jets, with tries to Rhyse Martin, Brett Lane and Jonathon Reuben while both players were up the tunnel, pegging the score back to 34-18 with still a quarter of the match remaining.
Despite a couple of late chances for Newtown, a try to Dylan Kelly ten minutes before full time sealed the Sea Eagles first win in more than two months, while putting a major dint in the Jets chances of spot in the top eight.
Newtown will need to win their remaining to games against the New Zealand Warriors and Newcastle Knights, both of which are on the road, if they are any chance of playing in September.
Manly will travel up to Newcastle on Sunday to take on the Knights who will be looking to push their claims for a top four spot.
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 38 (C Gutherson 3, D Kelly 2, M Manson, D Reardon tries; J Littlejohn 4, C Gutherson goals) def. Newtown Jets 18 (B Lane 2, R Martin, J Reuben tries; S Dureau goal) at Brookvale Oval.