Someone call Geoff Toovey because there needs to be an investigation into what happened on Thursday night.
Just days after they were humiliated by the lowly Titans, Canberra produced one of the upsets of the season to stun a Sea Eagles side that had been playing the slickest football in the NRL over the past two months.
The hosts were without stars Tom Trbojevic and Daly Cherry-Evans but they were still expected to make light work of the Raiders, given they walloped the Bulldogs 66-0 last week.
But playing against a side that had won just one of its last eight matches, the Sea Eagles produced an error-riddled performance that cast fresh doubt over their ability to perform with out their two talismans.
“This is starting to get a bit embarrassing for the Manly side. How bad have they been in the second half?” asked Fox League’s Steve Roach after the Raiders’ fourth try.
Canberra’s fans left early in pure disgust last week but they would have been proud as the Raiders moved level with the eighth-placed Sharks to somehow rocket back into finals contention.
Without Jack Wighton, Josh Papalii and Elliott Whitehead, Ricky Stuart’s men went back to basics to pick up their sixth win of the season with a 30-16 victory at 4 Pines Park.
It wasn’t pretty, but the bash and barge approach was just what the doctor ordered.
Joseph Tapine came on after 12 minutes for Dunamis Lui (calf) and played like a man possessed with 165 metres in the first half. In comparison, the Sea Eagles’ starting pack managed 159 metres between them in the opening 40.
The Raiders ditched the lime green for an unflattering blue and grey number, and the move from flashy colours set the tone for their workmanlike performance.
Veteran Sam Williams scored a double with two simple dummies from close to the line, while he and halves partner Matt Frawley broke Manly’s spirit with eight line dropouts.
Canberra’s Xavier Savage made his NRL debut on Thursday night. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
It’s probably a good thing the Sea Eagles had a garbage truck on the famous hill because this was the sort of performance that deserved to be thrown in the bin.
The night started promisingly when fill-in fullback Dylan Walker strolled over from a scrum, but things went downhill from the moment Brad Parker had a try overturned by the Bunker.
Moses Suli summed up their ineptitude when he turned his back on a kick to block the chasers and copped a falcon that resulted in a comical try to Seb Kris.
It wasn’t as bad as the dark days of the opening month, but their push for the top four has taken a huge hit with the Eels now six points clear.
Savage takes his Charnze
His first taste of footy ended in controversy after he was wrongly brought on as the 18th man against the Dragons, but Xavier Savage can now say he’s a first-grader after impressing in his first start at fullback.
There are huge raps on the teenager and he showed why with a couple of big plays that will do his confidence the world of good moving forward.
With Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad out for the season and Bailey Simonsson set to be sidelined for a number of weeks, Savage has a chance to make the fullback position his own.
We didn’t get to see his lightning speed, but he wasn’t afraid to carry the ball out of trouble. He also would have impressed his coach when he sprinted across to force an error to deny what would have been a certain Parker try.
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