Eight-point try against Canberra keeps Manly’s top-four hopes alive


What happened after Garrick scored is certain to divide opinion.

After chasing Garrick to the line, Joey Leilua dropped his knees into the Manly winger’s back.

Garrick reeled away in pain and the bunker deemed Leilua’s actions worthy of an eight-point try and all of a sudden Manly led 12-10.

Manly celebrate their narrow win against the Raiders in Canberra on Sunday.Credit:Jamila Toderas

Ricky Stuart wasn’t complaining post match about the decision.

“I think it was justified,” Stuart said. “I’ve spoken to BJ [Leilua]. I do think it was justified.”

After looking the better team for the best part of 50 minutes, the home side were suddenly under the pump.

But the Raiders didn’t wilt, repelling repeated Manly raids on their line.

Tom Trbojevic was denied a try but his brother, Jake, couldn’t be denied with 12 minutes to play.

Api Koroisau fired a pass across the face of Josh Papalii on the Raiders’ goal line and found Trbojevic, who ran a perfect angle to slice through and score what would prove to be the match winner.

But not before the Raiders’ primary threat all afternoon – Jack Wighton – broke the Manly line and set up Jarrod Croker to leave the match precariously poised at 18-14 with seven minutes to play.

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A Daly Cherry-Evans trysaver with just over two minutes to play sealed the result, leaving the Sea Eagles perfectly placed to face the Storm at Brookvale on Saturday afternoon.

The second-half rollercoaster ride offset a sleepy first 40 minutes littered with no less than 16 penalties.

Ashley Klein and Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski blew the pea out of their respective whistles, cruelling what started as a fascinating first half contest.

Manly, through the brilliant kicking game of Cherry-Evans, the game management of Koroisau, the constant threat Tom Trbojevic provides and the platform set by star props Addin Fonua-Blake and Martin Taupau cruised up-field when they had their hands on the ball.

The Raiders were less sleek in contrast but made sure they put the ball in the hands of Wighton as often as they could.

He was denied a try by a sensational Cherry-Evans cover tackle but quickly morphed from would-be scorer to creator when he double pumped a pass in front of Manly’s defensive line before putting Elliott Whitehead through, the Englishman popping the ball to a Croker on his way to the first points of the afternoon.

The penalty-a-thon which ensued in the next 20 minutes of the first term made for painful viewing.

Manly battered the Raiders’ line with regularity but were unable to find a crack in the best defence in the NRL, resorting to two Reuben Garrick penalty goals to keep them in the hunt at 8-4  at half-time.

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The relentless flow of penalties continued when play resumed but the eight-point try followed soon after.

The match was turned on its head and Manly emerged victorious.

If they can beat Melbourne in front of what should be a packed Lottoland on Saturday, a top-four spot will be theirs to lose in the final round of the season.

On the injury front, Joel Thompson will have scans on what could be a broken arm. Moses Suli will also have scans on a potential high ankle sprain.

MANLY 18 (R Garrick J Trbojevic tries R Garrick 5 goals) bt CANBERRA 14 (J Croker 2 tries J Croker 3 goals) at GIO Stadium. Referees: Ashley Klein, Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski. Crowd: 20,265.

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