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Eels still clueless - Australian Rugby league News
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globalrugbyleague - Sat, 19 Apr 2008 08:56:00 GMT
A gallant Sea Eagles outfit outlasted and outpointed the topsy turvy Eels 20-16 at a waterlogged Parramatta Stadium on Friday night.

The northern Sydney based side played the entire final quarter of the match virtually without an interchange bench, as three players found themselves in the injury ward.

Manly coach Des Hasler was over the moon with his sides seemingly miraculous win, calling it one of the best in the club’s history.

“That is what makes this job so enjoyable, you get experience and be part of a win and it will go down as one of the best wins the club has had,” a buoyant Hasler said.

“It was very courageous. We certainly had some obstacles to overcome, three players out and only one left on the bench who was injured and we were probably on the wrong end of the penalty count.

“We are all very proud of the way they performed tonight against some pretty formidable odds.”

The Sea Eagles had a shocker of a night when it came to the injury toll.

Firstly, veteran and enforcer Steve Menzies left the field of play as early as the 5th minute with a hamstring injury, while Michael Bani followed suit shortly afterwards with a neck injury.

Lock Luke Williamson joined the pair in the 60th minute with a concussion.

To make matters worst, Manly were on the receiving end of a 7-1-penalty count. But tonight was always going to be there night.

It started out that way when the Sea Eagles got in an early try. The Parramatta defence shut down a runaway break down the left hand side by the never tiring Steve Menzies, but when the Eels tried to get fancy by spreading the ball in the back line, they spilled the ball and Michael Bani was there to punish the mistake to the fullest.

But while Bani was celebrating, Steve Menzies was down in back play clutching his leg.

However, the loss of Menzies didn’t affect the Sea Eagles and the away side went further ahead 10 minutes later. A perfectly weighted grubber kick from Matt Orford found a flying Michael Robertson to extend their lead further.

The eels threw everything at their opponents in a bid to get back into the contest, but to no avail.

Things went from bad to worse for Manly when Michael Bani was stretchered off with a serious neck injury seconds before half time, but still went into the break 10-4 in front.

After the break, the Eels looked to get back into the match and inspirational forward Nathan Hindmarsh delivered just that.

Attacking close to the Sea Eagles line, Manly halfback Matt Orford fumbled Hindmarsh’s grubber allowing lock Chad Robinson to pick up the pieces and keep the desperate Eels in the game.

And when Williamson was taken off the park after copping a heavy knock attempting to wrap up Eels winger Eric Grothe, the comeback was complete.

Feleti Mateo provided a chip kick through to a flying Luke Burt allowing the Eels to lead by two points, 16 points to 14.

But despite the mounting injury toll and rising penalty count, the Sea Eagles would not be denied.

Manly were able to squeeze out a match-winning try from their crumbling side through a fantastic short pass to a flying Heath L’Estrange which in the end was enough to give the Sea Eagles victory.

A disappointed Eels coach Michael Hagan was left lamenting his side’s defensive efforts, with the Eels now only registering two wins out of six for the year so far.

“I think the game was there to be won at the end. We gave ourselves a chance to win the game and I think we lost it more than they won it to be fair,” he said.

“Defensively we dead set gave them 16 points in their 20 which I am not very happy about.”

Earlier on in the night the baby Eels bounced back from 14-0 at half-time in the Toyota Cup to remain undefeated.

Once again Daniel Mortimer was the star of the show, levelling the scores at 16-all with six minutes remaining before Mase Laulu Togage won the battle for the ball from a cross-field kick to leave Manly wondering ‘what if’.

A field goal from Mortimer (son of Peter) added salt to the wound and redefined the meaning of comeback 23-16 on a mostly miserable night for Parramatta fans.

MANLY 20 (M Bani H L'Estrange M Robertson B Stewart tries M Orford 2 goals) bt PARRAMATTA 16 (L Burt C Robinson tries L Burt 4 goals) at Parramatta Stadium. Referee: S Hayne. Crowd: 14,025. Penalties: Eels 7-1 - Read More, Here