The Sea Eagles have put a lacklustre Storm side to the sword but will be unhappy with their final five minutes after conceding four tries in their 36-30 win at 4 Pines Park on Thursday night.
Manly halves Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans were at their dominant best with Cherry-Evans in particular responding well after Queensland's Origin II defeat five days ago to help guide the side to victory.
It was the opposite for Melbourne for 75 minutes, who were without Cameron Munster and lacked any cohesion in attack despite welcoming back star Ryan Papenhuyzen.
Papenhuyzen looked understandably rusty as Manly ran in seven tries to two with Tolutau Koula and Jason Saab getting doubles each.
Match: Sea Eagles v Storm
Round 16 -
Venue: 4 Pines Park, Sydney
The Storm fullback returned serve late with two tries and an assist as Melbourne ran in 18 points in the final six minutes of the match to flatter the scoreboard.
The finish will raise concerns for Des Hasler after his men were guilty of giving up a big lead against the Cowboys a fortnight ago.
No one is catching Koula
- Melbourne handed former Rooster Jayden Nikorima a club debut after the side lost Maroons five-eighth Cameron Munster to a shoulder injury.
- Manly opened the scoring against the run of play with Tolutau Koula picking up a Papenhuyzen grubber kick and running 90 metres to the line.
- The Sea Eagles led Melbourne 18-6 at the break despite a 63% completion rate and 20 missed tackles in the opening half.
- A first half double to Jason Saab set up the 12-point advantage with Kieran Foran turning back the clock to link with Reuben Garrick twice, who sent the winger over.
- An uncontested Daly Cherry-Evans kick enabled Christian Tuipulotu to snatch the ball and cross next as Storm pair Papenhuyzen and Nick Meaney stared at each other after the miscommunication.
The Storm are somehow still in it
- Tries to Morgan Harper and Haumole Olakau'atu embarrassed Melbourne's defensive line with their edge defence in particular a major concern for Craig Bellamy.
- Brandon Smith delivered one of the efforts of the night when he stripped a ball one-on-one from Marty Taupau at the kick restart to jag a try back for the visitors.
- Koula crossed for his second untouched shortly after to set up a 34-12 lead before a penalty goal extended the advantage to four converted tries.
- Manly's win was their third against Melbourne since 2015.
- Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler now leads Craig Bellamy in the head-to-head battle 18-17 in their coaching record against each other overall.
- Sea Eagles captain Daly Cherry-Evans celebrated his 150th win for the club with the result.
Play of the game
The boot of Daly Cherry-Evans is one of the best in the game with his 40/20 effort in the first half swinging momentum the Sea Eagles' way just as Melbourne began to gain some ascendency.
Manly kicked on from there, setting up an 18-6 lead before DCE dominated with the boot for the remainder of the contest.
A DCE special
What they said
"After 60 minutes we were getting what we deserved. We sparked a bit at the end but that's too late. At the end of the day if you're going to win games here at this level you need to be consistent the whole 80 minutes. We can make some excuses like rep round but Manly were in the same boat. I was just really disappointed in our defence and some individual performances... just weren't up to scratch." - Storm coach Craig Bellamy.
"It was four minutes of mayhem [at the end] that we have to adjust, we have to fix, and we will. At the end of the day it was a game tonight that we had our backs against the wall, we had to win tonight and in doing so we beat the Melbourne Storm which is no easy feat. Some parts weren't pretty but there's a lot there that is positive which is what we'll take out of it." - Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler.
NRL Press Conference: Sea Eagles v Storm - Round 16, 2022
Melbourne have a seven-day turnaround to get things right before they return to Sydney to take on the Sharks at PointsBet Stadium. The Storm will be without the likes of Cameron Munster, Felise Kaufusi and Harry Grant through Origin commitments against a Sharks side who may only be without Siosifa Talakai.
Manly have a bye in round 17, enabling a second week's break in a month for Des Hasler's men. Sea Eagles prop Josh Aloiai may be available after the bye after a concussion in representative round.
Smith shocks to score a try