Manly Sea Eagles stun South Sydney to keep Rabbitohs’ waiting on NRL grand final appearance (ABC) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )
A transformed Manly ruined South Sydney’s NRL grand final dream, running away 30-20 preliminary final winners at Sydney’s Olympic stadium on Friday night.
The Rabbitohs, looking to play in their first grand final in 42 years, were ahead 14-0 after 11 minutes, but the Sea Eagles put 30 points past the favourites without response, including a try-of-the-season contender from David Williams.
It looked all too easy at first for Souths when John Sutton scored the easiest of tries, throwing a dummy before powering over inside seven minutes, before Nathan Merritt sped over on the left wing.
But Manly responded well to a bad start, with Brett Stewart running onto brother Glenn’s clever grubber kick to open the Sea Eagles’ account.
The Bunnies survived a late onslaught from Manly before the half-time siren, but more pain was to follow five minutes into the second stanza.
Matt Ballin reduced the deficit to just two points on 45 minutes, before Glenn Stewart and Daly Cherry-Evans combined to send captain Jamie Lyon over in the right corner.
Lyon converted his own try to take him to 1000 career points for the Sea Eagles – only the fourth Manly player to do so – but more fireworks were to follow when Williams chalked up a sensational try in the right corner.
Williams looked to catch a high pass behind his head with his left hand, before spinning his body in one movement and somehow grounding the ball inside the corner flag, all while keeping his body marginally in play despite pressure from Greg Inglis.
Lyon and Cherry-Evans combined again, this time defensively, to pressure Dylan Walker into grounding inside his own goal-line.
Todd Simons then put the icing on Manly’s cake, charging down an Adam Reynolds kick to find himself in acres of space to run home an easy try.
There was late consolation for the Rabbitohs as Walker scrambled home a try, but the only smiles were on Manly faces as the Sea Eagles advanced to their 20th grand final.
There is bad news for Manly, however, with Glenn Stewart at risk of missing out on the grand final after being put on report for a high tackle on Sam Burgess after four minutes.
Manly’s Jamie Buhrer told Grandstand his side always had the belief to overtake South Sydney.
“We have a lot of belief in ourselves at this club, no matter what situation we’re put in,” he said.
“We didn’t get the start we would have liked, but we knew we had it in us. We stayed composed and came away with it in the end.
“We’re starting to click at the right time of year. There’s a lot of things we can improve on – giving up 14 points straight away is not ideal.
“We need to tinker with a few things before our next game, but we’ll be going prepared.”
Manly: 30 (B Stewart, M Ballin, J Lyon, D Williams, T Symonds tries; J Lyon 5/5 cons)
South Sydney: 20 (J Sutton, N Merritt, D Walker tries; A Reynolds 2/2 cons, 1/1 pens; I Luke 1/1 cons)