Both teams laid on a game to remember on Saturday with 14 tries to farewell one of Manly’s favourite sons, Jamie Lyon, but the Canberra Raiders stole the prize 44-30.
Despite the great man’s absence through injury, he was everywhere in evidence after the club handed out Jamie Lyon face masks to all who entered the Brookvale ground. Lyon himself was granted a farewell lap of honour around the oval, accompanied by his children, to take his leave of the adoring fans. The crowd of 11,137 included several Manly greats, legends Steve Menzies and Matt Ballin among them, who attended to show their respect and affection for a grafter who had done so much for his club.
Manly, well out of the finals running, was playing for pride, but the Raiders were there to win and seal a spot in the top four. It was a fiercely contested game, neither side dominant for the first 10 minutes, when forward Paul Vaughan barged through the Manly defence to score the first try. Jarrod Croker’s conversion have him his 250th point for the season. Canberra scored again in the 18th minute when Jordan Rapana ran 90 metres to score off a Manly loose carry. The sides see-sawed until half-time, with honours relatively even at 18-10 in favour of Canberra, including a double to Rapana. The second half opened badly for Manly as Joey Leilua ran in a double in the space of six minutes, but Tom Trbojevic then crossed for his own second to lift the Manly squad. Edrick Lee and Jack Wighton put the game out of the Eagles reach, but the Manly kept trying and was rewarded with three tries, to Daly Cherry Evans, Trbojevic again and Frank Winterstein. Manly’s last hope of an upset died when Rapana once again got the ball and raced over for this third. The Raiders meet Wests Tigers at Leichhardt in the final round.
Gutsy Panthers make the finals
The Penrith Panthers finally locked in their spot in the 2016 finals series on Saturday night courtesy of a last-minute Matt Moylan field goal that secured the narrowest of wins over the Gold Coast Titans at CBUS Super Stadium on the Gold Coast. Jarryd Hayne was back in his favoured position, fullback, and had some good moments, but his form remains patchy and he was unable to push his team across the line. The Panthers owned the first half, scoring two tries and a penalty goal to lead the Titans 14-0 at the break. In the second half the Titans bounced back, tries by Greg Bird and Leivaha Pulu reducing the gap to two points. Tyrone Roberts even the scoreline with a penalty goal in the 76th minute to rapturous applause from the 18,288 fans watching. But Moylan remained cool as a cucumber as he seized his chance and rook the kick that sealed the result for the Panthers. The Titans get one more chance to reach the finals in round 26 – but they’ll have to down the North Queensland Cowboys. Penrith will have an easier task against the Manly Sea Eagles.
The Eels say goodbye to Parramatta Stadium in style
Monday night’s game, the last Monday game of the season, marked the end of the Eels’ long association with Parramatta Stadium, which will be demolished in the off season after 30 years of service. The opening of the stadium was marked by the Eels walloping the Dragons 36-6, and they repeated the trick this time, beating the Dragons 30-18 in front of a packed house. Rookie fullback Bevan French scored a hat-trick in a breathtaking performance that gave Eels fans something to cheer about after a horrid season of off-field drama and salary cap issues. French started proceedings in the 17th minute when Clinton Gutherson cut-out to Semi Radradra, who did well to weigh up his options and pass back in-field to a supporting French. The young Dragons half-back Drew Hutchinson, playing only his fourth NRL game, scored his first try of the season just before half-time. Michael Gordon scored a try and converted all five for the Eels. Finally, when it was all far too late, the Dragons started throwing the ball around and sent Kurt Mann over twice in just two minutes. Next week the Dragons meet the Knights and the Eels take on the New Zealand Warriors – Jesse Mullens
North Queensland Cowboys 24 – 16 Canterbury Bulldogs
Brisbane Broncos 26 – 16 Melbourne Storm
Cronulla Sharks 37 – 12 Sydney Roosters
Wests Tigers 36 – 24 New Zealand Warriors
South Sydney Rabbitohs 34 – 12 Newcastle Knights
Photo of the Lyon family thanking the Jane Try Stand from the NRL Twitter feed.