Match Report from SMH

Stuey Davis’s Socks

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By James MacSmith
March 26, 2006

Sea Eagles 20 Sharks 18

THE new-look Manly last night claimed their first win in 2006 but they will need to improve significantly if they are to become the premiership contenders some pundits have tipped them to be.

With former Storm stars Steve Bell - who was his team's best and who scored a smart try midway through the second half - and Matt Orford on board this year, and on the back of last year's finals appearance, Manly were expected to be a premiership heavyweight.

Their first two points is at least one step towards that status even though the home side had only won one of their previous eight games at Brookvale Oval.

The two-point victory, which wasn't nailed until the dying seconds after a converted try to the Sharks with four minutes left, will go some way to helping rebuild the Fortress Brookvale tag which crumbled in the latter stages of last season.

For the Sharks it was a case of deja vu for coach Stuart Raper who witnessed his side go to a 12-0 lead last week, in their first game of the season after a round-one bye, after 22 minutes against the Broncos before going down 16-12.

Last night Cronulla led 10-0 after 14 minutes and 12-6 after 49 minutes before again being run down from behind.

The visitors scored two tries to one in the first half, before a 13,114-strong crowd, which was matched by Manly after the break.

In the end it was a 73rd-minute penalty goal from Orford, for a Lance Thompson high tackle, that proved the difference between the two sides in what was for the best part a dour encounter.

It was a game Manly needed to win to keep in touch with competition leaders Newcastle, but in the inaugural clash for the Steve Rogers Memorial Trophy the home side started poorly when Adam Dykes crossed for an easy try in just the third minute.

Brett Kimmorley cleverly kicked behind the line, which wasn't read by Manly fullback Brett Stewart.

Dykes leapt on the loose ball without any opposition for a converted try.

From the kick-off Jason King and Ben Ross cracked heads which resulted in both players leaving the field. Both would return later in the half.

Cronulla added to their early lead soon after when Darren Albert scored their second try out wide in the 14th minute.

The ball went through the hands of Dykes and Kimmorley on the Sharks' right-hand side and then to Phil Bailey who made a half break before off-loading to Albert. Luke Covell missed the conversion for 10-0.

With Dykes and and Kimmorley combining well, the Sharks threatened to score more points but couldn't turn their opportunities into points.

Bailey had a try disallowed for obstruction in the 19th minute which was the only incident of note following their second try.

The home side finally found their form in the 33rd minute when Stewart forced his way over from dummy half.

With the Sharks defence stretched on their right-hand side, a try looked likely before Stewart burrowed over.

Orford converted for 10-6 before Manly pressed the Sharks' line in the dying minutes of the half but couldn't add to the scoreline.

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