Australia: Eels send Manly packing in NRL finals race

Manly's finals hopes are dealt a crucial blow after loss against Eels

  Manly's finals hopes are dealt a crucial blow after loss against Eels Three of Manly's seven boycotters marked their return to the team with tries against Parramatta, but it wasn't enough to prevent a 36-20 loss that dealt a major blow to the Sea Eagles' finals hopes.Tolutau Koula, Jason Saab and Christian Tuipulotu were part of the group that sat out last week's loss to the Sydney Roosters as they chose not wear Manly's pride jersey on religious grounds.

Des Hasler insists Manly's NRL season is not over despite their 36-20 capitulation to Parramatta that left them needing a minor miracle to make the finals.

A fast-finishing Parramatta have all but ended Manly's top-eight chances with a 36-20 NRL win. © Brendon Thorne/AAP PHOTOS A fast-finishing Parramatta have all but ended Manly's top-eight chances with a 36-20 NRL win.

Clint Gutherson starred with a hand in four of the Eels' tries, with the Manly junior sticking the knife into his old club and pushing Parramatta towards the top-four race.

Jake Arthur also set up two second-half tries, turning the match with two crucial second-half plays just a fortnight after being booed by Parramatta fans at CommBank Stadium.

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The halfback's effort came after a difficult opening half in defence as Manly cut the Eels' left-edge to shreds and Jason Saab broke the line four times.

The big margin came despite Manly leading 20-14 with 25 minutes to play, before Arthur stepped up and Parramatta ran in the last four tries.

With four rounds to play after this weekend, the Sea Eagles sit four points behind eighth-placed South Sydney and with a far inferior for-and-against record.

"We have to win four-from-four from here," coach Hasler said.

"That would give us a chance, but anything less is not going to work.

"We've got the players to do it. We just have to find a way and just have to win.

"We were certainly in a position to win tonight ... and we didn't. We can't afford to do that."

NRL News: Taupau set for Eels switch, JWH escapes ban for Fulton forearm, Rudolf opens up on Pride debate

  NRL News: Taupau set for Eels switch, JWH escapes ban for Fulton forearm, Rudolf opens up on Pride debate Manly front-rower Marty Taupau is set to jump ship to Parramatta after requesting an immediate release ahead of the transfer deadline on Monday. The Samoa international is without a club going into next year and The Daily Telegraph reports that he wishes to walk out on the Sea Eagles to give himself a shot with another NRL club, though to be the Eels. Parra have cap space for another player, and need desperate help in the forwards both now and next year, with Marata Niukore, Isaiah Papali’i, Ray Stone and Oregon Kaufusi departing from their rotation for next year.

Making matters worse for Manly is a hamstring injury for Kieran Foran, likely to rule him out of the clash with Gold Coast on Sunday week.

Parramatta, meanwhile, are level on wins with fourth-placed Cronulla and  eyeing a second chance in the finals if they keep their winning ways.

The Eels' starting forwards, Junior Paulo and Reagan Campbell-Gillard, were again dominant, while Shaun Lane threw offloads in the lead-up to two tries.

The match wasn't without controversy, with the Sea Eagles being denied a penalty try early in the second half that would have put them 12 points up.

Chasing a loose ball to score, Morgan Harper was ruled to have shielded Will Penisini off the ball before claiming he had been held back on the way to the line.

But still, Manly only had themselves to blame after their late capitulation.

Parramatta started the better through two early tries by Maika Sivo, the first from a Gutherson cut-out ball and the next a grubberkick from the fullback.

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  Peta Credlin slams Manly Sea Eagles over Pride jersey saga Peta Credlin has slammed the Manly Sea Eagles management and accused them of betraying their own push for inclusion.The Sky News commentator and former chief advisor to Tony Abbott has slammed Manly management and accused them of betraying their own push for inclusion by not allowing the players who don't want to wear the jersey to play.

Then, after two weeks of drama, the Sea Eagles leapt back to life.

All three of their tries came through last week's boycotting players, with Tolu Koula, Christian Tuipulotu and Saab crossing. Saab also broke the line four times.

And at 20-14 ahead, Manly's season appeared to be reignited.

But two weeks after copping his own jeers from the Parramatta faithful, it was Arthur who stood up for the Eels while filling in for the injured Mitch Moses at No.7.

He first laid on a sweet looping ball for Waqa Blake to pull off a superb flying finish.

And after Gutherson put the Eels ahead, it was Arthur who put the game beyond doubt with a grubberkick for Penisni with 11 minutes to play.

"He's just a young bloke learning his trade. He's fortunate he is in a very good team," coach Brad Arthur said.

"He is behind two very good halves, so he understands his role in the team and he did his job tonight."

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There’s little more than a month left in the regular season, five weeks which will determine more than just who misses the playoffs. Careers are on the line for players, coaches and administrators as the 16 NRL teams jockey for position over the closing weeks of the schedule. Premiers Penrith are now not so certain to finish first after Nathan Cleary was sent off and banned for the rest of the regular season after his spear tackle on Dylan Brown in the loss to the Eels on Friday night.

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