It was another very close game on Saturday night when the Sea Eagles held on to beat the Rabbitohs by one point in an engrossing 26 – 25 victory at Brookvale Oval, thanks to two last-chance field goals by Trent Hodkinson.
Manly have moved up to number five on the ladder after putting an end to their two week losing streak, while the Rabbitohs remain in the seventh spot now one ahead of the Broncos who beat them 50 – 22 the previous round.
The home side got off to a great start with a Steve Matai double. Matai opened their account just four minutes after the kick off and then scored Manly’s second in the 27th minute. It was a courageous effort from Matai, returning after a three-match ban, as he played the full 80 minutes despite re-injuring an ongoing shoulder issue.
In between Matai’s double the Rabbitohs sensational hooker Issac Luke, back after a one-week suspension, scored a speedy double with two tries in two minutes to put them right back in the game. His first try in the 17th minute, which he converted himself, tied the score six all, Shane Rodney having converted Matai’s first for Manly also.
Then in the 19th minute Luke scored and converted again to give South Sydney the lead 12 – 6.
But after Matai completed his double in the 27th minute, again converted by Rodney, the Sea Eagles were able to tie the scores again. Just when it looked like they would head to the sheds tied six all, a 40th minute field goal by the Rabbitohs Chris Sandow gave the visitors a one point advantage at half time.
Just one minute back from the break Manly’s No. 9 Matt Ballin got over the line from dummy half in their first set and got back the lead for the Sea Eagles 18 – 13 after the conversion.
The Sea Eagles got in another converted try in the 56th minute by Tony Williams putting them further in front 24 – 13. But in a solid second half performance by the Bunnies, Rhys Wesser and Chris Sandow scored a try each in the 59th and 65th minutes, both converted by Luke to give him a total personal haul of 16 match points.
With less than 15 minutes left on the clock Souths then lead by one point and in an intense final showdown, Manly managed to come away victorious after two late field goals by Trent Hodkinson in the 77th and 79th minutes, the match winning kick a beauty from 35 metres.
But it wasn’t all good news for Manly, who have again lost skipper Jamie Lyon, Lyon reinjuring his ankle after being trod on by Dave Taylor and ruling himself out of State of Origin III.
This week the Rabbitohs host the Storm while the Sea Eagles head to Penrith to play the number two Panthers. Both games should be a ripper so check out the betting odds at Ladbrokes.com.au today!