The Manly Sea Eagles bounced back into the winners’ column to defeat West Tigers 40-18 at Brookvale Oval. In a match fiercely contested through the middle, it was the attacking prowess of Manly’s backline proving the difference. Coming off a heavy loss to Newcastle in Round 17, Manly were desperate for the win to climb off the bottom of the ladder.
Hooker Kurt Aldridge had an outstanding game delivering quick balls out of dummy half, kicking six from seven goals and even scoring one of his own. Tony Satini's offence was inspiring with several line breaks, a try assist and a try while Jack Littlejohn steered his team around the park with a superb kicking game.
The opening quarter was a real arm wrestle as both teams muscled up in defense. Manly struck first, in the 24th minute, through a bulldozing run from Siosaie Vave who carried defenders over the line to score. Sharpshooter Aldridge made no mistake with the kick as Manly took the lead 6-0. Fullback Dom Reardon crashed over eight minutes later to extend the lead to 12-0.
The try of the half was scored on the last play after a tackle-breaking run from Manly’s Tony Satini was followed up by an intelligent chip from Littlejohn towards Manly’s left edge. Brayden Wiliame latched on to a favourable bounce to race down the sideline and score untouched out wide. Aldridge converted his third attempt to take Manly to a healthy 18-0 lead at halftime.
The halftime chat seemingly instilled some much-needed resilience for Wests Tigers but a mistake in their own end was compounded when Satini beat his opposing centre to crash over the line in the 48th minute. Aldridge missed for the first time as his kick from the sideline hit the uprights to leave the lead at 22-0.
With half an hour to play, Wests Tigers managed to score twice with winger Delouise Hoeter crossing in the 49th minute and Sitalevii Aviavola burst through a hole, off a flat pass from Penani Manomalealii, to barge his way to the line in the 52nd minute. Both tries were unconverted by Rowe and Tigers were still 14 points behind with the scoreboard reading 22-8.
Two minutes later, a momentum-altering forty-twenty, from Littlejohn, marched Manly downfield and when Aldridge scooted out from dummy half, Tim Moltzen could do little to hold up the hooker as he dived over under the posts. Converting his own try gave Manly a healthy twenty-point lead as the scores stood at 28-8 in the 56th minute.
With the final quarter to go, the Manly pack could be heard spiritedly challenging each other to muscle up against the fast-finishing Wests Tigers outfit. However, Wests Tigers scored twice in the following ten minutes through the efforts of Brendan Santi and Moltzen. At 28-18 Wests Tigers fans’ hopes were still very much alive.
This would prove to be the closest the Wests Tigers would come to cutting the lead as Manly’s left edge combination of David Williams and Satini linked to score two long-distance tries in the final ten minutes to guarantee the victory 40-18.
Manly Sea Eagles 40 (S Vave, D Reardon, B Wiliame, T Satini 2, K Aldridge, D Williams tries; K Aldridge 6 goals) bt West Tigers 18 (D Hoeter, S Aviavola, B Santi, T Moltzen tries; T Moltzen 1 goal)