Monas re-ignited Manly's finals campaign - Ritchie


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Monas re-ignited Manly's finals campaign - Ritchie

Dean Ritchie

Manly 21 Broncos 20

HE has taken a few kicks to the guts himself.

He was virtually kicked out of the club.

Yesterday, however, Manly captain Michael Monaghan produced the kick that re-ignited Manly's finals campaign.

No player has been under more pressure in the NRL than Monaghan.

After a match-winning 38- metre field goal yesterday to beat Brisbane at Brookvale Oval, Monaghan threw pressure back onto the Broncos.

Unwanted at Brookvale - then wanted again - Monaghan's form had slipped significantly over the past two months during a ugly contractual dispute.

But all that drama seemed a lifetime ago yesterday as Monaghan calmly kicked the field goal that helped his side to a stunning 21-20 win over the Broncos in front of more than 16,000 delighted fans.

"It came off pretty sweet," Monaghan said. "It was just good to get the win."

Indeed it was for Manly, who had lost five successive matches going into yesterday's game.

The victory pushes the Sea Eagles into sixth place and alleviates the pressure that had been building at Brookvale through recent times.

"It's been a tough five weeks," Monaghan said.

It was a cracking game of rugby league yesterday. Brisbane led 14-8 at halftime but should have been ahead by about 15 points given the chances they created.

But Brisbane gave Manly a sniff in the second half and the home side lifted.

"It was imperative we win today," said Manly coach Des Hasler. "We got off to a nervous start but we toughed it out, we played for each other and we deserved the win.

"We are sick and tired of excuses. We just knuckled down today."

Manly scored six minutes into the second half to level the scores before the Sea Eagles' fullback Brett Stewart put his side ahead with a try 11 minutes from fulltime.

Monaghan then kicked his field goal, allowing Manly to lead 21-14.

Brisbane scored with three minutes remaining when Brent Tate threw a miraculous flick pass to Justin Hodges, who crossed to inflict a final bout of nerves for Manly.

But unlike last week when beaten right on fulltime by North Queensland, Manly held tight in the dying moments to record a vital victory.

"We gave them confidence in the second half and they looked bullet proof," said Broncos coach Wayne Bennett.

"We got them back in the game and they grew from that. "[We had an] inability to make the right play at the right time."

Brisbane's sixth-tackle kicking options were poor.

But nothing was poor about Manly's second half. The confidence returned and the Sea Eagles can now look ahead with renewed confidence.

"I suppose we were down on confidence," said Manly veteran Steve Menzies. "We didn't have much ball in the first 20 minutes today but when we got some possession we started to play footy like we were at the start of the year."

The game yesterday was fast, entertaining and tough.

Brisbane's premiership charge has hit the slighest of speedbumps but there could be genuine concerns if beaten this coming weekend by St George Illawarra.

Manly 21 (A Alberts, C Hicks, B Stewart tries; L Williamson 4 goals, M Monaghan field goal) Brisbane 20 (J Hodges, K Hunt, B Seymour tries; B Seymour 4 goals) at Brookvale Oval. Referee: P Simpkins.

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