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Match Report - Round 6 2004

Errors aplenty but Moi Moi's brilliant cameo proves decisive

By Jacquelin Magnay - 19 Apr '04

Manly coach Des Hasler described it as a "tough call", while Parramatta coach Brian Smith reckoned it was "time luck ran our way . . . my heart jumped out the window at that point".

But the touch judge made a brave decision at the foot of the Manly hill to rule a forward pass after Sea Eagles centre Albert Torrens had crossed the try line for what could well have been the matchwinner. A try would have put the hosts ahead 30-28 with 3 minutes to play but, as the home fans in the 13,888-strong crowd and the Manly players were celebrating what would have been their second win of the season, referee Sean Hampstead - about to award the try - got the call. Parramatta's David Vaealiki then sealed victory with a try.

"If the call came from the far side of the field from someone looking into a blazing sun, it was a tough call," Hasler said.

"Some say if the technology is there then use it [by going to the video replay], but some purists might say the linesman should not have a call and it is the ref's call."

But typical of recent matches between Parramatta and Manly, this was a slugfest of dropped ball, wrong decisions and silly mistakes. Yet it was also wildly entertaining with a swag of surprises.

The drama started before the whistle was blown, with Parramatta's Dean Widders hauled from the field and Luke O'Dwyer hastily running on after a mix-up with the starting line-up. Minutes later O'Dwyer may have wished he had remained sidelined for the initial stanza as he was hammered in his first touch of the ball by a crunching tackle from Sea Eagles prop Kylie Leuluai.

Smith said the line-up was an embarrassment and he deserved to be ridiculed for it. "The coach will be duly censured," he said.

But to be fair, benchman Adam Peek was about to be stood down at the last minute when he suffered an asthma attack during the warm-up but then decided to play, confusing the exact make-up of the team.

Indeed, as the game progressed Parramatta were left with few forwards standing after Michael Vella injured his knee cartilage, Fui Fui Moi Moi damaged his ribs and Chris Armit limped off with a knee problem.

Early in the match, Manly rocketed to a 14-0 lead only to squander it when Moi Moi came on and fired up the Parramatta pack. Three quick tries ensued.

"We were shocking that first 15 to 20 minutes," Smith said.

"If it was a boxing match there would not have been any need to throw in the towel. They would have dragged us out by the soles of our feet.

"Moi Moi changed the game single-handedly. He changed the momentum. It was a cameo appearance of some standing."

But fleet-footed winger Eric Grothe also had a dramatic impact.

In the 53rd minute he gathered a high cross-field kick then charged 85 metres to score and put Parramatta ahead for the first time.

"It is good to get a long-range one. It gets the metres up and looks good on the stats," Grothe said.

In the close tussle, Manly had significant opportunities to score but failed at the vital point.

Hasler could only roll his eyes and mutter about deja vu and the closeness of the scoreline.

"We will get a victory sooner rather than later," he said.

(N Cayless A Dykes E Grothe M Petersen C Stapleton D Vaealiki tries L Burt 4 goals) bt
(K Cleal S Harris S Menzies A Walker tries A Walker 5 goals)

at Brookvale Oval.

Referee: S Hampstead.

Crowd: 13,888


1 - Andrew WALKER
2 - Scott DONALD
3 - Albert TORRENS
4 - Steve MENZIES
5 - Chris HICKS
7 - Michael MONAGHAN
9 - Chad RANDALL
11- Sam HARRIS
12- Nathan TUTT

14- Kylie LEULUAI
15 - Kane CLEAL
16- Anthony WATMOUGH
17- Shane DUNLEY
18. Solomon HAUMONO