This game has all the hallmarks of another classic in the making. Parramatta and Manly, two clubs tied together from their very inception. Bitter rivals and the fiercest of competitors in any given year but far more than that in 2021. The best two teams across the entire season who crossed paths in Round 1 before both going on undefeated from there on to meet again in the big dance. There will be plenty of feeling in this one, so look forward to an intense grand final. Coverage begins at 1:00PM but feel free to join the conversation now!
This game will also be live streamed on NSWRL TV via their Facebook channel.
The Parramatta Eels will receive the ball to start the 2021 Harold Matthews Grand Final.
A strong opening series of hitups from the Eels before they bomb it to the left corner. Kick chase is reasonable but the Sea Eagles make strong inroads of their own on the back of powerful ruck work.
A late offload from their five-eighth Fainu leads to a half break but Guymer does extremely well to cut it down before Lealaiauloto takes a cracking grab to defuse the attacking bomb. His partner in crime, Sulasi Aho does brilliantly after with a huge carry that earns a penalty.
The Eels work from left to right as Sam Tuivati nearly splits them up the guts. Myles Martin takes the ball to the posts . Yehya Ayache nearly powers over from dummy half but is pulled down agonisingly close before Sanders tries to stab a grubber kick in-goals. Manly do well to pressure him and claim the kick in the field of play.
Oh dear, poor Josh Lealaiauloto. He has made a meal of the clean up on Manly’s clearing kick in the next set. Tried to take it over his shoulder near the sideline and spills it backwards a number of times before it goes into touch. Huge chance for Manly.
The Sea Eagles spread the ball from left to right looking to spot up their fullback against sliding defence but the Eels read it correctly. They switch back to their left and try to roll the ball in but Guymer deflects it backwards allowing Aho to tidy it up!
Parramatta then pick up their second penalty of the game due a slow ruck.
Nothing too fancy for the Eels this set as they work the ball into Manly’s red-zone. They run the ball on the last as Talagi offloads to De Stradis but the backrower has no further options and has to take the tackle and thus turnover.
Manly put together another strong set that leads to an attacking kick. Initially it looks like an easy defusal for the Eels but Aho and Spence get their wires crossed leading to a knock-on in-goals. Sloppy work there.
A penalty comes early from the drop-out set and under the massive rush of possession the Sea Eagles finally cross. Short ball from Fainu to their left-edge backrower Roy Quiroz-Mapusua. Guymer actually made a good initial jam on the forward but the support defenders got their too late as he pushed over.
Try scored by Roy Quiroz-Mapusua. Conversion successful by Ollie Cummins.
Manly lead 6-0
The Eels kick to their left-edge from the restart of play. Manly play the ball down that side for two tackles before attacking the ruck. Their rake Cummins makes a dangerous scoot and the Sea Eagles continue to that side with second phase play. The Eels contain it though and bomb it crossfield where Manly lose it forwards in the contest.
Aho and Pryke make good charges in reply before Declan Murray nearly frees himself down the left. Lealaiauloto brings in back infield for the last. The Eels bomb to the right like Manly in the set before but the defence brings it in cleanly.
The Eels nearly strikes back in their next possession as Blaize Talagi breaks through the front line down the right. He links up with Aho to his right with a long pass but the Manly cover defence is too fast and they gun the big winger down and into touch.
Time is off for an injured Sea Eagles who is eventually aided off the field and the break lets Manly regather themselves. They make another bust through the middle and the Eels do magnificently to scramble in reply and keep the opposition out.
Game is settling to a real battle now as both teams slug it out. Manly have the ascendancy but a skyscraper torpedo bomb from Sanders nearly puts Lehi Hopoate in trouble. He loses the ball but it goes backwards and the pressure is quickly undone as Manly pickup a penalty for an offside defender.
Well me oh my, the touchy misses a big forward pass that leads to a linebreak for Manly down their right. The scramble defence of the Eels is alive and well though as they catch the flanker. He forces the pass that travels an impossible-to-ignore 25m forwards and over the deadball line for a 7-tackle set for the blue & gold.
Pryke spins through contact for a nice gain in the next set. Tuivati and Guymer go next as the Eels work it into attacking range. Sanders rolls it in early and nearly nabs a line drop out but Hopoate gets to the ball with a metre to spare and takes the tackle.
Nice hustle from Jacob John! He dives on a spilled ball from the Sea Eagles to get the Eels back on the attack but alas they squander it. Was that a knock-on for forward pass? A knock-on I think. Either way it lets Manly off the hook.
Guymer is beaten by his opposite and comes back to try and make ammends. He doesn’t overdo thankfully and avoids giving away a penalty. Manly starting to slip up a bit now as well. Their second error in two sets as the Eels get a chance to get on the board.
Scrum is set 25m out from Manly’s line. The Eels play right to Raff De Stradis who takes on the line. Guymer is up next and he weaves into the line. Left from Talagi to Sanders to Pryke. Spence is nearly dropped on his head but the ref rules play-on. On the last the Eels switch from right to left and look to have forced a line drop out but a late call of offside on the kick chase spares Manly the repeat defensive set.
Now a second penalty follows from the tap restart, I missed what that was for but it leads to tempers flaring with some push from the Sea Eagles. Nothing comes from it mind you.
Just over 3min on the clock, huge defensive stand coming for the Eels. Manly work from right to left. Good read and tackle from Talagi. The play-the-ball is miles off the mark and the ref spots it but does nothing. Manly then go to their left and are repelled before their dummy-half kicks from the ruck. It catches a deflection and leads to a mad scramble for the ball but the Eels get their first and touch it down for a drop out.
As with before, the extra set proves to be too much for Parramatta as the Sea Eagles spread it from left to right in the next possession. The Eels are caught too fair infield and Revelation Sio darts past Josh Lealaiauloto to score in the corner. A hammer blow on the stroke of half time.
Try scored by Revelation Sio. Conversion unsuccessful by Ollie Cummins.
Manly lead 10-0
Manly Sea Eagles 10 lead the Parramatta Eels 0
The Eels are kicking off in the second half.
Strong start for Manly as they slip an offload to get them well into Parra’s half. The kick comes from 30m out but the Eels get a deflection at the line and Murray plucks it out of the air to flip the field. Aho has another busy carry. Spence takes it to the goal line to bring up the last but the Eels have completely lost track of the count as Sanders just feeds it to Mino. Oh dear, what a costly lapse. Manly immediately counterpunch with a spread to their left and pick up a penalty three tackles later to get on the attack.
Fainu gets another offload away down Manly’s left but the Eels hold on. The Sea Eagles spin it to their right but the halfback Rory Morgan grasses it cold and takes the foot off the throat.
This is a nice reply set from the Eels. They work downfield and get away a testing bomb that allows Murray to chase and pin the fullback near his line.
The arm-wrestle swings the way of Parramatta in the next set when the clearing kick from Manly rolls over the deadball line. 20m restart for the Eels.
Josh Alzahim breaks a tackle throws a defender off and makes a strong gain. The Eels work back to their right for the last as they get the ball out to Suliasi Aho. The towering winger sorties back infield and links up with Sanders who sends a kick back to the left but it is too heavy off the boot and the Sea Eagles claim it in goals.
Ah geez, officiating has been pretty mediocre with a number of calls missed for the Eels but to the surprise of no one in the crowd Manly pick up a late penalty.
What a crucial call as well as they quickly strike from the restart of play. Their big prop forward Samuela Fainu crashes over the right of the posts. Defence was lacklustre there but there was little doubt Manly got a gift of a set as well.
Try scored by Samuela Fainu. Conversion successful by TJ Herring.
Manly lead 16-0
An error from the kickoff set from Manly means the Eels still are not out of this but they do need to make a move now.
Left from the scrum win to Murray with Lealaiauloto on the second. Ayache jumps out of dummy half and links up with Murray on the third .
Talagi nearly dances over in front of the posts and from there the Eels continue to their right as Lafai laces a grubber kick through to earn a drop out.
Martin takes the drop out hit up into the teeth of the defence. Jacob John is up next before the Eels play left. A really nice show and go from Sanders sees him carry defenders to the line before the ball is illegally reefed out.
Lafai gets us back underway with a carry. Lightning quick shift to the right and Talagi rifles a pass to Guymer, the nuggety centre steps off his right and nearly crashes over but the cover defence get there in time. Parramatta are held up over the line on the next play, Talagi it looks like tackled.
We come back out 10m for the play-the-ball and the Eels post it to the left. Big backline move that puts Murray and Lealaiauloto in a man-to-man situation. Murray dummies to his big winger and steps off his left, beating his man and then diving between cover defenders to score! There is life still in this team!
Try scored by Declan Murray. Conversion successful by Ethan Sanders.
Eels trail 6-16
Spence takes the kickoff and elects to run it himself. Lealaiautloto has a cracking run through contact on the second! What an effort. John plays it to Lafai on the third and Ayache jumps out of dummy half on the next play. John comes back for a carry of his own and the Eels complete the set with a bomb from Sanders. A solid kick chase pins the Sea Eagles in their red-zone.
Tough set for Manly here, They get out of trouble late in the set and get away a nasty tropedo bomb but Spence is such a pro under the high ball and takes it with ease.
A surging carry from Guymer takes the Eels deep into Manly’s half and John sets them up for a go either way. They roll to the left but switch it back to their right as Murray is sent back on a crossing play but his link pass to Sanders is way off the mark and is dropped.
Oh that is a backbreaker. Probably a missed forward pass call but those are the breaks. It leads to a long range break for the Sea Eagles down their left. The pass releases the winger Calvin Levy and the Eels don’t have the pace to run his down as he streaks 60m downfield to put the game one step further beyond the reach of Parramatta. Almost certainly the game sealing score there.
Try scored by Calin Levy. Conversion unsuccessful by TJ Herring.
Manly lead 20-6
The Eels go long instead of short from the kickoff. Perhaps a concession that 3-scores s beyond them. Manly play it conservatively to get over halfway before losing it in a tackle. The Eels set a scrum on their own 40m line and line their backs to the left.
The ball shoots out of the lock’s feet and there is confusion among the Eels as to who is picking up up. Talagi eventually does but has the ball robbed from his possession in a one-on-one strip in a moment that probably sums up today. Manly play to their left but the ball is batted down by the Eels. Manly scrum.
And now a trick shot. Why not? Manly have the victory secured and roll the dice on a gimmick play from the scrum win. Fainu shoots down the left and kicks ahead for his centre and winger. Josh Feledy wins the chase ahead of Spence and scores in the corner. The score has blown out a bit as a result but Manly have definitely being the better team on the day.
Try scored by Josh Feledy. Conversion unsuccessful by TJ Herring.
Manly lead 24-6
Another error from Manly in a kickoff set but it is purely academic here. A chance for the Eels to hit double digits on the scoreboard only.
Let to Sanders who plays out wide to Spence but the pass is mistimed. Spence has to stop to pull it in. Back to the right where the Sea Eagles are penalised for a clear strip in front of the posts.
Tap and go for Alzahim before they go right. Another scorching bullet pass from Talagi to Guymer that sees the centre stopped inches short. Talagi is rewarded for the setup on the next play as he crashes over down the right-edge short side. The siren rings out in the wake of his efforts but there is still a kick to come.
Try scored by Blaize Talagi. Conversion successful by Ethan Sanders.
Manly Sea Eagles 24 def. the Parramatta Eels 12