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Sea Eagles have landed - Australian Rugby league News
globalrugbyleague - Sun, 23 Sep 2007 11:54:00 GMT
Manly-Warringah fans will have to cross the Harbour Bridge again one more time this season after making short work of North Queensland to reach their first grand final in ten-years.

In an amazing high-stakes game where the first three tries were rejected by the video referee, the Sea Eagles led from the front to beat their interstate opponents five tries to one.

It was a courageous win for Des Hasler’s side who lost Michael Monaghan in the 17th minute to a severe concussion before the talented hooker returned in the second half.

His absence was noticeable with the Cowboys scoring their only try while Monaghan was being treated off the field.

Sea Eagles halfback Matt Orford kicked 4 goals and did no harm to his chances of collecting an end of season Test jersey.

More importantly the ‘Ox’ as he is affectionately called by teammates – dominated against the competition’s best halfback, Jonathan Thurston.

Orford’s kicking game was competitive if not opportunistic while his direction in attack had the same authority as a Sydney UBD. This was his night to shine.

A better performance in a Grand Final would give him a very good chance of clinching representative honours.

‘I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight,” Orford told the media after full-time.

He will be one of thousands of fans waking up with dry eyes in anticipation for today’s second qualifying final.

Sea Eagles legend Steve ‘Beaver’ Menzies – who played for Manly in the 1995, 1996 and 1997 Grand Finals – will now be looking for premiership ring number two.

Number one was claimed in 1996 when Manly defeated St George.

Manly – who have improved every season since coach Des Hasler took over the reigns in 2004 – will now face either Parramatta or Melbourne in next Sunday’s season decider.

Traditionalists will be hoping for an all-Sydney classic grand final showdown between Manly and Parramatta who last played in a Grand Final back in 1983.

Who does Manly want to play next week? Nobody knows. They just want to beat them and if they play like they did in week 3 of the finals, they should be confident.

MANLY 28 (B Stewart, A Watmough, S Bell, J Lyon, L Williamson tries; M Orford 4 goals) d NORTH QLD 6 (J Lillyman try; J Thurston goal) Referee: Paul Simpkins Crowd: 32, 611 - Read More, Here