Manly Sea Eagles feeling the pain after shock NRL loss to Wests Tigers

Manly coach Trent Barrett admits it would hurt if Sunday’s surprise defeat to Wests Tigers costs his side a top-four finish.

The Sea Eagles had surged from behind to beat Sydney Roosters seven days earlier but it was they who blew a 14-point lead at Leichhardt Oval in a 30-26 loss.

Watene-Zelezniak wins it for Tigers

Manly looked comfortable at half-time, but all that changed in the second half to set up a thrilling final few minutes.

It was a lost opportunity for Manly, who now head into the last three rounds of the competition in seventh place, level on points with Penrith and North Queensland and still two points outside the top four.

“Considering what we had to play for, it was very disappointing,” Barrett said. “That hurts. It just makes next week [against Canterbury] even more important. There is a quagmire of teams there and abouts. Every game counts now.

“But I’m more disappointed in how we lost that second half. We didn’t manage it at all. I thought their kicking game on the end of their sets was particularly good but missed tackles and offloads on their outside backs really hurt us.” 

Another unhappy Sea Eagles visit to Leichhardt – they have not won at the venue in 10 years – was made worse by an ACL knee injury suffered late in the game by young centre Brad Parker.

Barrett said Manly had not taken the Tigers lightly but he had expected his team to put the hosts away after establishing a 14-point lead at half-time.

“They’ve got a lot of good individuals in their team. We knew we weren’t going to come here andjust roll through the middle ofthem,” he said. 

“I thought we were probably a try away when we were up by eight in that second half, we would have put them away. But we just kept inviting them back into the contest. The crowd gets behind them and in the end it just felt like that was coming and it did.

“We let in some soft tries too, I thought, but we shouldn’t have been down that end of the field. You just can’t give teams possession. It doesn’t matter who you play or where you sit on the table, it’s irrelevant. Every team is operating under the same salary cap, every team has got good players. If you give them enough opportunities they will hurt you. And we got hurt today in a pretty bad way.” 

Manly must pick themselves up quickly before taking on the struggling Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium.

“Our next three games are huge,” Barrett said. “We need to put 80-minute performances together. Last week we had a really good second half against the Roosters. Our first half today was OK but our second half was poor. Eighty minutes is what we’re searching for and we’re going to have to find it quickly.”

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