Manly slump to third straight loss - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Manly slump to third straight loss

By Steve Jancetic 30/03/2009 11:20:13 PM Comments (0)

Manly's NRL premiership defence is spiralling out of control after the Sea Eagles slumped to their third straight loss with a 12-10 defeat by Penrith at Brookvale Oval on Monday night.

The club world champions remain rooted to the foot of the ladder alongside Canberra with no wins from three matches after Penrith scored two tries over the closing 23 minutes of the game to power the Panthers to their first win of the season.

Manly five-eighth Chris Bailey scored his second try of the game with seven minutes remaining to ensure a tight finish, Matt Orford's conversion from wide out sailing to the left of the uprights to leave the home side behind on the scoreboard.

Winger Michael Bani was held up over the line before being pushed back into the field of play with four minutes on the clock, but when Brent Kite was caught with the ball on the last tackle, Manly's hopes were sunk.

Manly's headaches don't end there either with concerns over Jamie Lyon after the former Test centre limped from the field with a knee injury early in the second half.

After conceding a try to Bailey midway through a listless first half, the Panthers finally turned field position into points in the 57th minute, when young playmaker Wade Graham, who replaced the hooked Jarrod Sammut after 19 minutes, instigated Penrith's comeback.

He put Frank Pritchard into a gap with a beautifully delivered cut-out pass before Pritchard outdid him with an offload for Lachlan Coote to level the scores at 6-all.

Neither side showed any semblance of form over the opening 40 minutes, the two teams living up to their lowly position on the ladder as they traded dropped ball for poor options.

Bailey's first try in Sea Eagles colours came as somewhat of an anti-climax with the former Newcastle utility squeezing through two defenders close to the Panthers line, the video referee giving Bailey the OK with doubts over the grounding.

Not even six straight sets on the Manly line could deliver Penrith some points, but it looked like their luck had changed when Luke Lewis carved his way through four minutes after the restart, only for the video referee to deny the four-pointer for an obstruction in the lead-up.

Panthers coach Matthew Elliott praised Graham's performance, the 19-year-old responding well to being dumped to the Toyota Cup for the first two rounds of the season.

"The reason Wade didn't start the season was he wasn't playing good footy - tonight he played good footy," Elliott said.

"When he does play that well he makes a difference to the team.

"Our defence all season has been fantastic ... that's a part of our game that I feel very comfortable with, we've got some areas we can improve on for sure, it's probably the other side of the ball that we need to brush up on."

Manly coach Des Hasler claimed his side was "exceptionally good" in the first half but lamented his side's inability to hold onto the ball and the lead after the break.

"We'll get out of it, it's just a frustrating, tough period," Hasler said.

"They're a tough side - they're campaigned, they're hardened, but we'll get out of it.

"We're well and truly under the radar now don't worry about that."

The initial prognosis on Lyon was a medial ligament strain, which could sideline him for up to a month.

"I don't know the extent of it but it doesn't look good," Hasler said.

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