Eels deal Manly NRL finals blow with win

Michael Gordon has nailed a 78th-minute penalty goal to give Parramatta a 10-9 NRL win at Pirtek Stadium and put a massive dent in Manly’s slim finals aspirations.

Daly Cherry-Evans’ field goal at halftime appeared to be the difference until Sea Eagles forward Martin Taupau was pinged in the dying minutes on Friday night for an off-the-ball tackle on Bevan French.

Gordon then coolly slotted the winning shot, ending Manly’s four-game winning streak and leaving them in 11th spot and two points out of the top eight.

On the same day coach Brad Arthur was handed a contract extension until the end of 2019, the Eels clawed their way to their 11th win of the season and avoided a three-game losing run.

Manly led 7-6 at the break but there were no tries in the second half, with Gordon and Dylan Walker trading penalty goals before Gordon’s match-winner close to fulltime.

The victory in front of just 8143 fans was soured by an ankle injury to stand-in captain Beau Scott in the second half.

Sparks between the long-time rivals flew from kickoff, when 100-game celebrant Brad Takairangi forced a turnover on the first play with a jolting shot on Taupau.

Scott and Darcy Lussick also exchanged off-the-ball pleasantries that resulted in an early scuffle, drawing the ire of the referees.

But while the big men dominated early, it was the smallest player on the field in rookie French who broke the game open in the sixth minute.

Taking a Takairangi offload flat-footed, the Eels winger showed his blistering speed by grubbering around Cherry-Evans and taking a crucial intercept minutes later.

He also went close to pinching a try in the 21st minute.

Despite the Eels’ dominance, Sea Eagles rake Api Koroisau levelled the scores when he burrowed over in the 37th minute before Cherry-Evans nailed a one-pointer on the halftime siren.

Sea Eagles forward Josh Starling was put on report in the second half for a high shot on Tepai Moeroa that ended his night.

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