strong for Cronulla
Fast finishing Manly
overcame the dramatic loss of point-scoring whiz Ben
Walker to deal Cronulla's National Rugby League finals
hopes a devastating blow with a 36-18 win over the Sharks
at Brookvale Oval.
The Sea Eagles scored six tries to three and piled up the
last 18 points to break an 18-18 stalemate.
Manly played out the last 19 minutes and added a final 12
points without five-eighth Walker, who was stretchered
off in a neck brace.
Walker was taken to Royal North Shore hospital after
being knocked unconscious for seven minutes following an
accidental knee in the neck by Cronulla prop Chris
"He's got a pretty sore neck, although he's got
movement in his hands," Manly coach Peter Sharp
The result ensured Manly would stay within one win of the
eight after this weekend, but the Sharks will remain at
least four points outside the playoff zone.
Asked if Cronulla could still make the finals, a candid
Sharks coach Chris Anderson said "Not playing like
that. We will have to improve our football a fair
In a mistake riddled encounter, Manly conceded fewer than
30 points for the first time in seven rounds and finished
off more clinically than the bumbling Sharks which bombed
two tries in the second half through lamentable handling.
Winger Matt Rieck knocked on over the line in the 52nd
minute and utility Michael Sullivan marred an otherwise
impressive performance in the 63rd minute by dropping the
ball after crossing the Manly stripe.
"When you do that and you drop it, it knocks your
arse into orbit," Anderson said.
Manly scored 16 unanswered points in the first half, but
Anderson bemoaned Cronulla's defensive errors and failure
to capitalise on its attacking opportunities after it led
18-16 following a Sullivan try in the 47th minute.
"We had them knackered when we got two points ahead,
I thought we had them out for the count, but we let them
back into the game," Anderson said.
Sharp conceded Manly's football wasn't pretty and felt
the team needed more consistency in its game.
"If we can get that, maybe we can get a big scalp
one day, if we can get a bit more consistent right across
the 80 minutes," Sharp said.
Following its regular script for this season, Manly
conceded first points for the ninth time in 13 games, but
produced a storming second half display.
Cronulla, five-eighth Greg Bird, scored the game's
opening try in the 10 minutes, but Manly retaliated with
an unanswered 16 point surge which included tries to
halfback Luke Dorn, skipper and lock Steve Menzies and
winger John Hopoate.
Sullivan's converted try gave the Sharks the lead, but
Walker tied the game with a penalty and converted a 59th
minute try to Anthony Watmough before leaving the field.
Manly iced the win with a try to prop Jason King
following what Anderson described as a "50-50"
call by video referee Graeme West, and a 60 metre effort
to winger Scott Donald.
(Tries: Dorn, Menzies, Hopoate, Watmough, King, Donald.
Goals: Walker 4/5, Williamson 2/2)
(Tries: Bird, Sullivan, Emelio. Goals: Anderson 2/2)
21 June 2003
Referee: T Mander.
2 Scott DONALD
3 Alby TORRENS
4 Ben MACDOUGALL
5 John HOPOATE
6 Ben WALKER
7 Luke DORN
8 Jason KING
9 Chad RANDALL
10 Aaron CANNINGS
11 Solomon HAUMONO
12 Luke WILLIAMSON
13 Steven MENZIES (C)
15 Anthony WATMOUGH
16 Sam HARRIS
17 Mark SHIPWAY