NRL Round 20 – Match 7 Results: Manly Sea Eagles 38 v 20 Wests Tigers

On Sunday the Wests Tigers became the third top-three team to suffer defeat in Round 20, after the Sea Eagles mauled them 38 – 20 at Bluetongue Stadium, thanks to an inspirational performance by Manly’s captain Jamie Lyon.

Manly further improved their chance of featuring in the playoffs with the win, their second in as many weeks, which boosted them into the top five teams.

The Tigers, however, looked very flat on Sunday and their first loss in the past month pushed them down to number four.

Wests’ loss followed those of the number one Dragons and the second ranked Panthers, who were defeated by the Titans and the Storm respectively over the weekend.

It was an evenly matched first half full of passion, with the Tigers first to get points on the board when they were awarded an early penalty in the 11th minute that Benji Marshall kicked through the uprights to give them a two point advantage.

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The Tigers were also the first to score a try through a Chris Heighington four-pointer in the 16th minute. Marshall made this conversion, but was off his game and would later miss another three conversion attempts.

Trailing 8 – 0, Manly began their impressive comeback just three minutes after Heighington’s try, with Shane Rodney opening the Sea Eagles account with the capacity crowd of 20,059 fans cheering him on.

Jamie Lyon, flawless on the boot all match and also scoring a double to bring his personal haul to 22 points, converted to narrow the deficit to just two points.

Then in the 24th minute five-eighth Kieran Foran scored Manly’s second and with the conversion they stole the lead 12 – 8.

In a powerful finish to the first half, Jamie Lyon scored again in the 29th minute, kicking his own try to push the Sea Eagles further in front.

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The Tigers attempted to close the gap in the 36th minute when Robert Lui scored after Manly centre Steve Matai was sin-binned for aggressive behaviour and challenging his rivals’ skipper Robbie Farah, but without the conversion it wasn’t enough and they were still behind 18 – 12.

Then in the final minute before the break Glenn Stewart added some cushioning to the Sea Eagles lead with another converted try that they managed to score still playing 12 on 13 with Matai in the bin.

Back from the break Wests Tigers looked like they might be back in the game when they were first to score in the 48th minute after Blake Ayshford scooted over from dummy-half, so they trailed 24 – 16.

But Manly weren’t about to let the Tigers take too much off the margin, and in the 54th minute Jamie Lyon made it a match double and converted his own try.

Six minutes later winger Lote Tuqiri scored the Tigers fourth and final try, but with Marshall missing his third kick in a row it did little to soften the blow.

Rubbing more salt into the Wests wounds, fullback Ben Farrar scored again for Manly in the 67th minute and then in the 72nd minute the Sea Eagles got in two last points off a penalty kick so they won 38 – 20.

Manly will start the favourites next Monday night when they play the Knights, but don’t bet on them at the TAB.

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