Heartbreaking last minute defeat in Holden Cup Grand Final
The Parramatta Eels have suffered a heartbreaking defeat to the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in the 2017 Holden Cup Grand Final, going down 20-18 after a try in the final minute of play secured the victory to the Sea Eagles.
The Eels NYC opened the scoring in the fourth minute of the clash when Dylan Brown took on the defence close to the Sea Eagles try line. A dummy and turn of speed from the young halfback saw him slice through the line and cross over out wide for a converted try.
The next points were added in the 12th minute of the clash, when after a 50m charge down field from winger Greg Leleisiuao, the Sea Eagles were pinned for being offside. Brown knocked over the penalty to put the Eels ahead by eight.
The Eels were over again in the 15th minute, when after forcing their way down field after some aggressive defence and strong charges by the med in the middle, Reed Mahoney dropped a ball back on the inside for co-captain Denzal Tonise.
The stocky forward was too hard to stop close to the line and he barged his way over to score a converted try underneath the posts, giving the Eels a 14-0 lead.
The Sea Eagles had several changes to put their own points on the board as the half progressed, but some defiant and brutal Eels defence repelled the oncoming attack.
The Eels effort was epitomised in the 29th minute of the clash when Brown chased 60m to run down the Manly centre Tevita Funa after he scooped up a loose ball. The ball was then spread through the hands to find Semisi Kioa crashing over the line but some desperate Eels defence held saw the centre held up with the ball over the line.
However the pressure eventually turned into points when a slick backline movement had Funa crossing over out wide for a try in the 30th minute of the encounter.
The Eels looked to have struck back in the 34th minute when forward Oregon Kaufusi found his way over the line, but a knock on in the grounding overturned the decision.
It was the Sea Eagles who had the last say in the half, when winger Bilal Maarbani won the race to a grubber to plant it just inside the dead ball line right on the half time buzzer.
The try was converted and the Eels went to the sheds with a 14-10 lead.
With all the momentum to finish off the first half, the Sea Eagles came out with the same intent and momentum to begin the second stanza.
After making their way down field, a short ball from Sea Eagles half Tom Wright put backrower Blake Andrews into a hole and he won the footrace to the corner to level up the scores.
The next 20 minutes of play saw the Sea Eagles build plenty of possession and pressure down the Eels end of the field. Several forced drop outs and a handful of unforced errors from the young Eels saw the Sea Eagles camped inside the Eels end.
And after absorbing all that pressure, the Eels made their way down field and with their first opportunity with the ball, saw try-scoring sensation Leleisiuao crossing over out wide to put the Blue & Gold back in front.
A simple shift through the hands of the Eels right edge backline putting the Eels back in front by four in the 67th minute.
A break by Sea Eagles winger Maarbani down the sideline with two minutes remaining on the clock, was batted down by the Eels, gifting the Sea Eagles possession.
With under a minute of play to go, a short ball from Manly hooker Manase Fainu put interchange forward Keith Titmuss through a hole to score to the left of the posts.
Tevita Funa converting the try after the fulltime siren to secure a 20-18 victory.
Parramatta Eels 18 (Tries: Dylan Brown, Denzal Tonise, Greg Leleisiuao; Goals Dylan Brown 3/4)
Sea Eagles 20 (Tries: Tevita Funa, Bilal Maarbani, Blake Andrews, Keith Titmuss; Goals: Tevita Funa 2/4)