NRL 2022: Manly Sea Eagles defeat Melbourne Storm, Daly Cherry-Evans stars in 36-30 win

A Daly Cherry-Evans masterclass saw Manly hold off a fast finishing Storm on but the real damage for Melbourne was dished out by their coach after the match.

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy accused his players of damaging the club’s legacy by failing to aim up against Manly just days after rep round.

The Storm lost 36-30 to an upbeat Sea Eagles side willing to scrap for every inch in a game that was pivotal to their finals chances.

Melbourne – missing Queensland Origin stars Felise Kaufusi and Cameron Munster and with several players backing up from last weekend’s Test matches – were uncharacteristically flat and lacking physicality.

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Brandon Smith (centre) was one of Melbourne's better players on a bad night for the Storm. Picture: NRL Images
Brandon Smith (centre) was one of Melbourne's better players on a bad night for the Storm. Picture: NRL Images

Their defence lacked any conviction and players sought easy options and quick fixes.

Only a late flurry of points off the back of four tries in five minutes made the scoreline respectable and that, according to Bellamy, was not good enough from a club which prides itself on being up for every game.

“In past rounds, when we’ve had the rep round, our guys wore it as a badge of honour to be able to back-up and play well,” he said. “I’m not quite sure we did that today.

“For that first 60 minutes we were getting what we deserved. We sparked at the end but that’s too late. If you want to win games at this level you’ve got to be consistent for 80 minutes and we weren’t.

“We can make some excuse about rep round and whatever, but Manly was in the same boat.”

Bellamy revealed Munster was very close to playing and he will definitely be right to go for the Origin decider despite carrying a shoulder injury.

CLASSIC CAPTAIN’S KNOCK REIGNITES MANLY’S SEASON

Daly Cherry-Evans buried his State of Origin hell by reigniting Manly’s season with a 36-30 win over premiership heavyweight Melbourne at Four Pines Park.

Four days after leading Queensland to a humiliating game two defeat in Perth, DCE responded with a classic captain’s knock to spearhead his side’s first win over top four opposition in two years.

The No. 7 finished with three try assists – two from kicks and one from a lovey cut-out pass – and added a couple of sideline conversions after taking over goalkicking duties from Reuben Garrick.

DCE had his fingerprints over every part of this victory, which should have been by a greater margin after Melbourne scored four tries in the final 10 minutes.

The veteran halfback produced a nine out of 10 performance against a spluttering Melbourne side that only came to life when it was all but over.

Daly Cherry-Evans spearheaded Manly to their upset win over Melbourne. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Daly Cherry-Evans spearheaded Manly to their upset win over Melbourne. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

It was Cherry-Evans’ 150th win in his 275th game and he now sits on 599 career points.

“When you lose an Origin game you can’t come back to your club quick enough and just move on,” he said. “You use whatever you can for motivation, but our last game here (a late loss to the Cowboys) was probably more motivation.”

The win revives the Sea Eagles’ season after they appeared to be coming off the rails following a dramatic collapse against the Cowboys a fortnight ago.

Manly bumbled and fumbled their way through the first seven minutes before stealing a try against the run of play.

Centre Tolu Koula stuck out his left hand to reel in a poorly executed Ryan Papenhuyzen kick, spun around and sprinted 90m to the try line with the Brookie hill roaring him home.

The Sea Eagles kept inviting Melbourne up their end and Papenhuyzen, keen to make amends for his early blue, made them pay.

He cut out two players to send Nick Meaney over in the corner and the Storm were headed to a 6-4 lead.

Two pieces of brilliance from Cherry-Evans then turned things Manly’s way.

Spotting Papenhuyzen sitting shallow behind the defensive line, the skipper booted a perfect 40-20 to put his side on the attack.

They immediately cashed in, spreading the ball left for Garrick to put Jason Saab in for a try that all came down to that DCE kick.

The captain’s right slipper proved just as deadly a few minutes later.

Manly stunned the Storm with an impressive first half at Four Pines Park. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Manly stunned the Storm with an impressive first half at Four Pines Park. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

He launched a high floater while Papenhuyzen and Meaney sat under the ball, looking at each other as if awaiting an operations manual.

They let the ball bounce in what could be best described as a fatal decision.

Sea Eagles winger Christian Tuipulotu showed no such hesitancy, plucking the ball out of the air and crashing over as the home side eased out to an 14-6 advantage.

There was better to come.

Off the back of yet another Storm mistake, Manly launched a raid on the stroke of halftime and again came up with a result.

Saab crossed for his double – and the Sea Eagles’ fourth – with 19 seconds left to secure the hosts an 18-6 lead.

Jake Trbojevic was strong for the Sea Eagles. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Jake Trbojevic was strong for the Sea Eagles. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

The Storm dressing-room should have come with a strong language warning as Craig Bellamy

dissected 40 minutes of dropped ball, missed tackles, clunky attack and general apathy.

In other words, a completely un-Melbourne-like performance.

But this time Bellamy’s words fell on deaf ears.

Morgan Harper scored nine minutes into the second half and Haumole Olakau’atu, swatting away defenders like he was brushing sand off his body at nearby Curl Curl beach, crashed his way over soon after to make it 28-6.

The Sea Eagles led 36-12 with six minutes to go before Melbourne raced in four quick tries to bridge the gap to just six points.

Manly coach Des Hasler admitted the late collapse was a concern on the back of a similar surrender to the Cowboys a fortnight ago.

“There was probably four minutes of mayhem there that we have to fix and we will,” he said.

“Conceding four tries in four minutes is something we can’t let happen and we can get that sorted. Some parts of it (our game) weren’t pretty but there’s a lot there that was positive.

“We had to win tonight and beating Melbourne Storm is no easy feat.”

The Storm were without Origin duo Cameron Munster and Felise Kaufusi but it’s doubtful they would have made much of a difference on a bleak night for the club.

“For that first 60 minutes, we were getting what we deserved. We sparked at the end but that’s too late,” coach Craig Bellamy said.

“If you want to win games at this level you’ve got to be consistent for 80 minutes and we weren’t. We can make some excuse about rep round and whatever, but Manly was in the same boat.”

Originally published as NRL 2022: Manly Sea Eagles defeat Melbourne Storm, Daly Cherry-Evans stars in 36-30 win

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