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Matai scavenges Sea Eagles' win over Eels

By David Beniuk 13/08/2011 11:28:36 PM Comments (0)

Manly centre Steve Matai scavenged two crucial second half tries from Parramatta blunders as the Sea Eagles came from behind to notch a 26-20 victory in Saturday night's NRL clash at Parramatta Stadium.

Matai picked up a wayward Jarryd Hayne pass from dummy half four minutes after halftime before capitalising on an embarrassing Chris Hicks fumble six minutes later as the Eels blew a 14-6 lead after dominating the first 40 minutes.

Parramatta had looked like putting the memory of last week's 56-6 humiliation at the hands of South Sydney behind them against their bitter rivals but imploded before a late rally in front of 11,102 fans.

The humiliation had been all Matai's when he threw a shocker from dummy half in the first half to gift Hicks the first try of the match.

But, in a bizarre reversal, Hayne did the same two metres from his own line for Matai to pick up the scraps and score, the conversion making it 14-12.

When Hicks fumbled a cruel bounce in the 50th minute from a long Kieran Foran Kick, Matai was there again to turn the match as Manly took an 18-14 lead.

The Eels managed a late Justin Horo try to give them some hope of a golden point game and a Hayne bomb was only just defused by the Sea eagles in the final seconds.

In a blow to a Manly side getting used to the absence of co-captain Jason King with the season-ending pectoral tear suffered last weekend, NSW State of Origin representative William Hopoate failed to finish the game with a knee injury.

The Sea Eagles, who have tough games against Melbourne and Brisbane still to come, firmed up second spot with the win, while the Eels remain in the battle for the wooden spoon after a fifth straight loss.

As well as Matai, Daly Cherry-Evans and Brett Stewart scored tries for Manly with Jamie Lyon booting five from five in coach Des Hasler's 200th game at the helm.

For the hapless Eels, Hicks, Ryan Morgan and Horo bagged four-pointers, while Luke Burt kicked four from five.

Parramatta led 10-0 after 18 minutes through two Burt penalty goals and Hicks' try before Cherry-Evans started and finished a 23rd minute Manly try.

Quick hands put Morgan over in the 32nd minute to make it 14-6 in favour of the home side.

The Eels haven't been able to buy a win in recent times.

They became the first side ever to lose consecutive games in golden point extra time in losses to Penrith and Canterbury and were up 18-0 over Melbourne two weeks ago before losing 22-18.

Asked if they'd found yet another way to lose, coach Stephen Kearney said: "I don't know if there is a new way.

"Over the last couple of months I think we've found most ways."

Adding to their woes, the Eels played with just 16 players after interchange prop Justin Poore suffered dizzy spells before and during the game and was taken to hospital.

Hasler conceded Manly's first half performance was below par but also called on the NRL to ensure the senior referee takes charge of the majority of the match at the business end of the season.

"We want Tony Archer refereeing the majority of the game, not the apprentice (Chris James) because he didn't perform very well," Hasler said.

"I think if you asked Tony Archer he would say the same thing.

"We need the head referee or the No.1 referee in charge."

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