South Sydney Rabbitohs left to wonder what might have been.
The Manly Sea Eagles have booked a place in the 19th NRL grand final in club history after blowing Souths Sydney off the park in their preliminary final at ANZ Stadium.
Down 14-0 after as many minutes the Sea Eagles score an important try in the first half before looking like a different team in the second stanza.
Everything that could have gone right or needed to change in their game-plan did as they put on a 24-6 second half to earn their spot in the decider.
Manly had a concern early as Glenn Stewart was placed on report for a high tackle on Sam Burgess.
With Adam Reynolds in the South side kicking at 90 per cent for the year he easily slotted the penalty goal to give his side a two-point lead.
The Sea Eagles defence close to the ruck continued to be poor early in the game as John Sutton snuck over
after Stewart missed an easy tackle.
The Rabbitohs made the away side pay as they raced out to a 8-0 lead as Reynolds added the extras.
Thr red and green side continued to look a class above the Sea Eagles as well-worked move down their left edge
saw Nathan Merritt finish off the sweeping move.
The four-pointer for Merritt saw him equal the club’s try-scoring record which was set 80 years ago.
Reynolds again kept up his amazing record with the boot as out his side out to 14 points in front.
Off the back of a Bryson Goodwin mistake, Manly scored their first for the night as Glenn Stewart combined with his brother Brett who grounded the grubber.
And despite further review, the green light flashed up and the margin was cut back to eight.
As the balance of possesion began to swing towards the Sea Eagles they gained confidence in their work.
Issac Luke then committed a embaressing mistake at the back of a scrum as he knocked-on just 10 metres out from their own line, gifting their opponents a golden chance to get right back in the game on the scoreboard.
George Rose went agonoisingly close to crossing for Manly as he bashed he was undet the posts only to be held up, before the Sea Eagles earned another set of six due to a knock-on.
Amazingly under massive pressure, South Sydney reflected at least three legitimate scoring chances.
Despite not playing their best for much of the second quarter of the game, South held on to their eight-point lead at half-time.
Matt Ballin scored off the back of some Brett Stewart brilliance and slight of hand as Manly scored
the first try of the second half, cutting the margin to just two.
Sam Burgess got across the line for Souths after a cheap Manly turnover, but the English forward failed to ground the ball.
After earning a penalty, Manly spread the ball to their dangerous right-hand side attack as Jamie Lyon
getting in between two men as he scored to put them in front for the first time of the match in the 59th minute.
David Williams then scored one of the best tries of the season, especially under the circumstances as he defied the sideline to give his side an important 10-point buffer with 16 minutes left.
A chargedown by Manly’s Tom Symonds all-but sealed the match for the Sea Eagles as they earned a 30-14 lead.
After a short kick-off George Burgess kept his sides faint hopes alive as he just planted the ball under the posts but it was ruled to have been a knock-on and their chances of being in the grand final are all over.