Talking Points: Manly shock Melbourne Storm on Anzac Day

After a disappointing start to the new NRL season, not many had expected the Manly Sea Eagles to be able to compete with the high-flying Melbourne Storm in their Anzac Day clash at AAMI Park. But the bottom-placed side upset the odds to pick up a crucial 12-10 victory over the table toppers. Heading into the game on the back of a run of five losses, Manly had been expected to be the latest side to suffer a defeat at the hands of an in-form Storm side. However, the visitors had other ideas and picked up a morale-boosting win that the club will be hoping could breathe fresh life into their season. 

Melbourne had been leading until the 71st minute before Daly Cherry-Evans, Manly’s stand- out player during the game, set up winger David Williams to score in the corner, handing the Sea Eagles their second win of the season. Despite a late Melbourne charge, the hosts could not find a way past a determined Manly defence and pick up a fourth straight win, suffering their second two-point defeat to Manly this season and dropping to third in the NRL.

Despite the relatively low score, both Manly and Melbourne played some impressive rugby. The Storm had gone into the half-time break leading 10-2 thanks to tries from Marika Koroibete and Cooper Cronk, who had only been cleared to play at the last minute after spending the week laid up with flu. Cronk and his opposite number Cherry-Evans played out a personal battle during the 80 minutes, but it was the Manly half-back who had the last word on a rainy night in Melbourne. 

It was not all good news for the Sea Eagles, however. A lack of discipline cost Melbourne as well as the hosts were repeatedly penalised for slowing down play, and Manly’s second row Tom Symonds did not hesitate in taking advantage to crash over and reduce the deficit to two points before Williams scored the winning try with nine minutes remaining. It might not have been the best start to the season for the Sea Eagles but it was their second win of the campaign against a Melbourne team with odds of 7/1 to go all the way this year. 

Much of the shine of victory was taken away from the Sea Eagles following the news that forward Jamie Buhrer could miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury. The lock has struggled with his knees throughout his career and suffered his latest problem halfway through the second half. He left the field and headed straight down the tunnel and into the changing rooms with what looks like another cruciate ligament injury. It is an injury he suffered on his other knee earlier in his career. While the Sea Eagles are still waiting to see the full extent of the injury, head coach Geoff Toovey admitted the signs were not positive in terms of the 25-year-old returning to action before the end of this season.