The Parramatta Eels have overcome adversity to score 22 unanswered points in an electric second half of football tonight, defeating the Manly Sea Eagles in front of 17706 parochial fans at Pirtek Stadium.
For the second straight week the Eels received a controversial decision from the officials after a try to halfback Chris Sandow was disallowed by the video referee for an obstruction early in the second half. While Sandow caught the ball on the inside of the decoy runner, no Manly defender was impeded at any time and Sandow dummied and dived over.
The decision perhaps galvanised the Eel's players though as they would soon cross for their first try of the night to Kenny Edwards in the 46th minute. In the lead up superstar fullback Jarryd Hayne burst onto a backline movement to the left to make big inroads, but it was the sheer determination of Edwards to bustle his way over the line to get his team back in the contest after trailing 12-0 at halftime. Sandow nailed the conversion from the sideline to reduce the deficit to six.
Manly looked set to extend their lead soon after with back to back sets on the home team's line until Semi Radradra latched onto a Kieran Foran cross field kick and turned on the big Semi trailer engine to race the length of the field to score, swatting Manly defenders off along the way. Sandow levelled the scores at 12 apiece with the conversion in the 53rd minute.
From the ensuing set of six, Sandow who had a strong kicking game all night nailed his sixth 40/20 of the season to put his team straight back on the attack. Full of momentum, the Eels wasted no time capitalising sending centre Will Hopoate over in the 57th minute. Sandow again converted giving his team an 18-12 lead.
Manly struggled to get back into the match from this point due to a handful of unforced errors coming out of their own end. They did get a chance in the final ten minutes though off the back of a penalty against Tim Mannah for a crusher tackle which was placed on report. Manly looked set to score through winger Peta Hiku, only for Radradra to make a try saving tackle around his bootlaces.
From the ensuing set of six it was again Sandow who put his team in a position to attack after a spiralling bomb was put down by Manly fullback Brett Stewart ten metres out from his goal line. The Eels again made them pay with winger Vai Toutai crossing in the corner to ice the game with a 22-12 victory.
Earlier in the first half it looked like it would be another typical Manly performance with staunch defence and classy backline movements resulting in tries to wingers Jorge Taufua in the 4th and Peta Hiku in the 30th minutes.
At halftime some of the home team supporters may well have been wondering whether they should stick around for the second forty. Those who did will have travelled home after witnessing one of the more memorable victories since the glory days of the eighties.
Next week the Eels will travel up to the Hunter to tackle the giant killing Knights on Saturday afternoon while Manly will host a crucial match against the Panthers at Brookvale on Sunday.