1st grade gave Manly a massive head start in the opening minutes, kicking out on the full twice and giving the competition leaders penalties on the back of pressure that we had put ourselves under through poor execution. Two maul tries from line outs saw us down 0-14 before we had even struck a blow.
We managed to arrest the onslaught with some sting in our defence and some good attacking pressure in the right areas of the field. As against Randwick a week earlier, we had Manly's scrum buckling under pressure on their own line but with referees reluctant to give yellow cards or penalty tries, we managed to finally attack from a stable scrum and Jack Grant snuck over close to the ruck to score. Having arrested the early Manly onslaught, we were now well and truly into the flow of the game and with two more tries in quick succession to Ned Yeomans and Will Maddocks, the Beasties owned the last twenty minutes of the first half to lead 19-14.
It was the half time we did not need as Manly came out in the second and played a much tighter game and we were sucked into this pattern of play in some respects. Our tackle focus somehow changed in this time as well and we started falling off high tackles whilst Manly brought on some big bodies to take us on up the middle. When we lost a man to the bin for ten minutes, Manly scored three tries to take the game away from us and lead 41-22 with just over fifteen minutes remaining.
With fifteen men again, the try colours mounted a comeback only to see tight head prop Steve Longwell ruled to have dropped the ball over the line. Alas, we came back again and this time, Archie King went through, gave an inside ball to Will Maddocks and got the ball back again after Maddocks was ankle to tapped to bring the score to 29-41. King then crossed for his second try moments later on the back of some good team attack and with two minutes on the clock and the score at 36-41, an incredible comeback was possible but as we looked to move the ball to space, we were slow to secure possession and Manly got the penalty that ultimately ended the game.
We are left once again to look back on moments and incidents in the game that were costly. This game had momentum both our way and against and we were guilty of not making the most of the momentum that favoured us. Playing with fourteen men for ten minutes also makes the task of defeating a team that has lost only one game all season, all the more difficult.