In a game which bewildered the crowd, Manly defeated Sydney University 27-21 in the last two minutes at University last Saturday. After leading Manly comfortably 21-10 at halftime, the Students uncharacteristically failed to score in the second half.
Manly actually started positively after the ball was swung to the open inside the University quarter. With an overlap their winger Jay Baker scored in the corner for a converted try. But not to be intimidated University gathered their composure and commenced to build phases of play. Inside the Marlins half the ball was passed to the open. Five eighth Connor O’Shea later deftly passed a short ball back inside to winger Harry Potter. Again the 2016 Hogwarts alumnus glided through untouched under the posts for a simple try. Parity had been restored to 7-7. Manly inched slightly ahead with a further penalty but soon after University scored an incredible try.
The ball was received inside the University half. A chip and chase was executed down the blindside where Potter regathered and passed on to his support inside centre Will McDonnell. McDonnell showing all the deft skills of a Narrabri jazzercise choreographer tip toed down the touchline, drew the defence and passed back to the speeding winger James Kane who raced over for an excellent try. Kane’s conversion now had University ahead 14-10.
But the show continued and again O’Shea was the director. Once more University decided to attack open. O’Shea’s theory of if it worked once it will work again paid off as he passed another short ball back inside. This time it was fullback Tim Clements who was charging through splintering the Marlins defence to score beneath the posts. Kane’s conversion had University now ahead 21-10 at the half time break.
The crowd may have thought University would continue the second half punishing Manly. But there was no Excalibur sword used by the Students as Manly taught the Students a lesson.
The second half was a series of mistakes committed by University. Somehow their hallmark of discipline had departed. Dropped balls, missed tackles and attacking opportunities were capitalised by Manly.
A phase of broken field running by Manly early in the half allowed them to score in the eastern corner and soon after a further try was scored. University were just ahead 21-20 due to some missed conversions by the Manly goal kicker.
University were attempting to stave off a Manly side who were clearly enjoying the momentum. The clock was winding down but Manly were punching inside the Students twenty two area. A ruck had formed beneath the University posts and the Students were desperately trying to hold on. This time luck ran out and Manly were the party poopers when a converted try was scored through a loosely marked ruck. 27-21 was the score with a minute left on the clock. Manly wound down the clock after the kickoff and enjoyed a rapturous victory after the full time bell was rung. University had been stung and will regroup for next week as things don’t get any easier.
Next week University are away at the T.G. Millner field where we once again have an arm wrestle with Eastwood.