Raiders put to sword by Manly
MANLY brought Canberra's 25-game unbeaten home run to a dramatic end with a superb 16-8 defeat of the Raiders in the Australian Rugby League premiership match at Bruce Stadium yesterday. Despite spending 10 minutes of the second half with two players in the sin bin, the Sea Eagles had too much determination in defence for the Raiders. Hero for Manly was Tongan born winger John Hopoate, who scored all three of his team's tries. Hopoate is qualified to play for both Australia and Tonga in the rugby league World Cup later this year.
The Sea Eagles led 10-0 midway through the second half when referee Eddie Ward sent Manly stars Geoff Toovey and Owen Cunningham to the sin bin. Lifted by the numerical superiority the Raiders launched a brief revival during their absence, coming back into contention at 10-8. But Manly sealed victory three minutes from full-time when five-eighth Cliff Lyons picked up an interception and sent the flying Hopoate in for his third try. The loss was Canberra's first of the season - and their first at Bruce Stadium for more than two years. The match had been billed as a test of strength between the traditional rugby league camp and the upstart Super League.
Manly, along with coach Bob Fulton, have remained loyal to the ARL almost to a man while Canberra and coach Tim Sheens were among the first to switch en masse to the new competition.
The Newcastle Knights' undefeated record also fell by the wayside in a shock away loss to debutant side the South Queensland Crushers at Lang Park. Malcolm Reilly's Knights led 14-2 early before English import Mike Ford sparked a remarkable Crushers fightback and a most unlikely victory. South Queensland finished convincing 28-18 winners, earning a standing ovation from a delighted crowd of more than 21,000 fans. In the only other game yesterday, long-striding Gorden Tallis bagged three tries as St George thrashed a woeful Parramatta outfit 56-6. Centre Mark Coyne also had a picnic for the Dragons, scoring two tries and having a hand in several others.
The losses by Canberra and Newcastle leave Manly as the only undefeated team after 10 rounds of the Winfield Cup. The Sea Eagles are alone at the top of the table - and likely to be considered as the new title favourites in the eyes of the bookmakers. Selectors today name the New South Wales and Queensland teams for the second State of Origin clash in Melbourne on Wednesday week.
The Blues have several players in doubt, including Newcastle's Johns brothers. Five-eighth Matthew and halfback Andrew were both injured during the Knights' loss to the Crushers.