Wests Tigers NSW Cup side have suffered a 40-18 defeat to the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles from their Round 18 match on Saturday afternoon at Brookvale Oval.
Coming into the match on the edge of the top eight and needing a win to keep their finals hopes alive, Paul Fletcher’s side found themselves trailing 18-0 at the break after some strong attacking football from the home side. And despite playing some stronger football in the second half, the visitors were unable to overcome the deficit built in the first half by the Sea Eagles — suffering a 22-point defeat heading into the bye next weekend.
After a grinding first half, Manly-Warringah finally opened the scoring in the 16th minute when Siosaia Vave burst through the line to score next to the posts.
Kurt Aldridge had no problems adding the extras to give his side a 6-0 lead.
Following a run of penalties that allowed the home side to camp down Wests Tigers’ end of the field, the Sea Eagles eventually doubled their lead five minutes before the half-time break when Dom Reardon finished off a sweeping move in the corner.
Aldridge nailed the conversion from out wide for a 12-0 lead after 35 minutes.
It appeared that the scoreline would remain as such heading into the half-time interval, but a crucial length-of-the-field try from Reardon just seconds before the siren sounded allowed the home side to hold a commanding 18-0 lead following Aldridge’s conversion.
Manly-Warringah quickly picked up where they left off when the second half resumed — crossing just four minutes into the half through Tony Satini after a quick left edge move.
Aldridge’s missed conversion from the sideline left the Sea Eagles’ lead at 22-0.
Wests Tigers finally got on the board in the 50th minute when Delouise Hoeter crossed out wide, and went back-to-back moments later when Sitaleki Akauola crashed over.
However, fill-in goal-kicker Kurtis Rowe was unable to land either of the difficult conversions, giving the Sea Eagles a 22-8 lead with 25 minutes remaining in the match.
The home side would restore their lead in the 57th minute when Aldridge crossed under the posts off a good offload — converting his own try to give Manly a 28-8 lead.
Despite losing Junior Kiwi international Watson Heleta to injury shortly afterwards, Fletcher’s side would refuse to go away and would again cross the line through Brenden Santi, who had moved into the front row with Jack Buchanan ruled out of the match.
Rowe’s conversion saw the margin pulled back to 28-14 with 19 minutes remaining.
Tim Moltzen reduced the gap to 28-18 when he crossed in the 65th minute as Wests Tigers continued to mount their comeback, and they appeared to have cut the gap even further when they crossed the following set following a kick from Penani Manumalealii. However, the chasers were ruled offside and the Sea Eagles survived the narrow escape.
That would prove decisive in the context of the match, with the offside penalty allowing Manly to work the ball downfield and seal the match in the 68th minute when Satini crossed for his second try of the day, with Aldridge extending their lead back to 34-18.
David Williams would add one final try for the home side in the final minutes of the match, with Aldridge’s conversion giving the Sea Eagles a dominant 40-18 lead, which is how the scoreline would read as the full-time siren sounded at Brookvale Oval.
The loss leaves Wests Tigers’ NSW Cup side outside the top eight and needing to finish the year with a strong run to remain in finals contention — a run they’ll look to begin following next weekend’s bye when they take on Penrith at Campbelltown on July 25.
NSW CUP FULL TIME — Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 40 (Reardon 2, Satini 2, Vave, Aldridge, Williams tries; Aldridge 6/7 goals) def. Wests Tigers 18 (Hoeter, Akauola, Santi, Moltzen tries; Rowe 1/3, Moltzen 0/1 goals).