Monaghan leads Manly to win over Eels - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Monaghan leads Manly to win over Eels

By Todd Balym 11/05/2007 10:53:21 PM Comments (0)

A Manly halfback put his hand up for NSW State of Origin selection on Friday night, but unfortunately it was the wrong one.

Skipper Matt Orford needed a man of the match performance to push his NSW claims, but instead the starring role came from unwanted halfback Michael Monaghan, who ignited Manly's second half revival to down Parramatta 22-12 in their NRL clash at Brookvale Oval.

Monaghan sparked the Sea Eagles from a 6-2 halftime deficit by putting backrower Anthony Watmough into space for a 60m bust in the 48th minute. He then grubbered ahead for Jamie Lyon to score, sparking Manly's avalanche of four tries in 15 minutes to claim victory in front a 19,944 fans.

Fullback Brett Stewart also put forward a strong argument for NSW selection, scoring two superb individual tries to take his tally at Brookvale to 35 tries from his last 34 games.

But the star was Monaghan, the halfback who was named at five-eighth but played hooker and could next week sign a deal with another NRL club or Super League side to leave Manly at the end of the season - a year before his contract expires.

"The thing I really want to do is play halfback and that is why I'm looking to move on," said Monaghan.

"I have been playing a few different positions but I'm really happy with the consistency I have had this year.

"Hopefully something can be sorted out pretty early next week and, regardless of the result, we've got a lot of footy to go here and I'm looking forward to finishing the season well ... it's a big opportunity we've got here this year."

While Orford's attacking kicking game was solid, it was the midfield creativity of Monaghan and his long kicking game which prompted former NSW coach and Nine commentator Phil Gould to call for Blues selectors to consider him for Origin I.

"If you want a wildcard for NSW number seven I would take Michael Monaghan without any fear or favour," said Gould.

"I don't know if he is the best but I know you can win with him."

Monaghan might have grabbed the plaudits, but Orford didn't exactly throw away his Origin hopes. His first-half cross-field bombs were only diffused by two superb catches from Parramatta's NSW wing hopeful Jarryd Hayne and Orford's efforts were finally rewarded with a second-half grubber that Chris Hicks grounded for a 16-6 lead.

Manly coach Des Hasler said Orford belongs in a NSW jersey, while Stewart would only be denied by Anthony Minichiello because the Sydney Rooster has a wealth of experience.

"I think this bloke (Orford) has put his hand up," said Hasler.

"The only way Mini will get ahead of Stewart is because he has got more experience.

"Stewart would not look out of place in a Blue jersey."

Hounded with Origin questions all week, Orford is glad the situation is at last out of his control.

"Only the selectors can answer that," said Orford when asked for the umpteenth time about his Origin prospects.

Eels tries came from Tim Smith in the 15th minute and replacement Zeb Taia in the 68th.

Coach Michael Hagan said his side failed to convert their first half dominance and lacked composure.

"Ultimately they controlled their ball better than we did and that obviously controlled the scoreboard too," said Hagan.

Centre Steve Matai was a late inclusion for Manly after passing a fitness test on the ankle he injured in round one, but the Kiwi international was placed on report late in the first half for a swinging arm on Ben Smith which left the Eels centre with a bloodied nose.

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