Sports

A bunker error mars the Eels’ victory over Manly

It was thrilling action at CommBank Stadium but the Eels managed to hold off an early attack from the Sea Eagles and won 28-24.

There was one-way traffic at the start of the game, with Tom Trbojevic and Daly Cherry-Evans romping and creating breaks on the right side of the field.

Trbojevic scored the first four-pointer off a kick from Reuben Garrick before a simple effort from Jaxson Paulo gave Anthony Seibold’s men a 14-0 lead within 12 minutes.

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But Brad Arthur’s men came back strongly, scoring three tries in 16 minutes to get back into the game.

The first came from a Mitchell Moses kick that landed in center Will Penisini’s lap after the Sea Eagles failed to contest the ball.

Moses then added his own name to the scoresheet before Blaize Talagi crossed on his NRL debut in a moment Fox League’s Corey Parker described as “special”.

Just before half-time, Reuben Garrick scored, which Trbojevic fired in and gave Manly an 18-16 lead at the break.

From then on, the Sea Eagles were prevented from scoring on several occasions, with Dylan Brown’s floating pass reaching Morgan Harper early in the second half.

Kelma Tuilagi also crossed from a short ball from Moses before controversy marred the game.

Trbojevic broke the middle of the park at a crucial point in the duel, trailing by 10 points, and found Tolu Koula to score.

However, upon review, Bunker concluded that Jake Trbojevic had interfered with Eels striker Luca Moretti, despite both players walking.

The call stunned both Andrew Voss and Fox League’s Corey Parker, and after another Sea Eagles try against Corey Waddell, the four-pointer could have been the difference.

“It’s not a disability, he persevered and gave up,” Voss said.

“That’s a tough question,” Parker said.

“Seibold’s look says it all. It’s a difficult question. They stuck to it consistently.”

To end the game, Manly’s Josh Aloiai was also sent to the sin bin for an open-handed hit.

The blocking with 15 minutes left was the decisive move in a riveting encounter in front of 20,354 fans.

Eels utility Moretti jogged across the field and made a deliberate strike against the stationary Jake Trbojevic, while Tom Trbojevic burned into a gap and fed a beautiful spiral ball to the flying Tolu Koula, which hit under the post.

But senior review officer Chris Butler ruled that Moretti had been denied the chance to tackle Trbojevic.

The ruling was technically correct, although Moretti apparently had a greater chance of stopping daylight saving time.

Fox League caller Andrew Voss said, “He wasn’t denied the opportunity to make the tackle because he wasn’t able to make the tackle.”

“He doesn’t make any effort,” Voss added.

“That’s true, but the simple fact that he contacts Jake Trbojevic. Moretti is ready. He’s finished work.

“It’s not a disability, he signed off and gave up.”

A converted try would have meant the Sea Eagles were two points behind. Instead, Parramatta got a penalty. When a penalty goal followed, the Eels took a 10-point lead, which proved to be a crucial buffer.

Originally published as The Eels hold on as a bunker error leads to an NRL grudge match

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