By Adam Lucius
What: Shute Shield round 14
Who: Manly v Southern Districts
Where: Manly Oval
Result: Manly 16-15
Manly are where on the table: Fifth (47 points)
80 minutes in 80 seconds: With both teams playing their third game in a week, there would have been no surprise if fatigue kicked in early. But instead we were treated to a real 80-minute dogfight – well, 82 minutes to be exact – with plenty of intensity before finally finding a winner. Souths led 9-3 at the break courtesy of three penalties from superboot Rohan Saifoloi. He added another three-pointer early in the second half to take Souths' lead out to nine points. But Manly always manage to produce something special when running towards Sydney Rd (Bruce Stevo's stats may or may not back this up!) and so it was again at the 53rd minute mark. Josh Turner broke clear from 85m out and swerved, ducked, avoided and pushed off defenders on his way to the line. It was some try and gave Manly a way back into the game at 12-8. Souths eased a converted try in front a few minutes later via their fifth penalty but there were still a few chapters left in this story. A pushover try to Manly hooker Vance Elliott from a lineout just after the hour narrowed the gap to two but unfortunately the kick again went wide to leave the visitors ahead 15-13. That's the way it stayed until a late, late twist. With the bell having rung, Manly pounded the Souths line looking for the match winner. They were centimetres from the line but repelled countless times. Then we saw the ref's arm extended for a penalty right in front of the posts. Matt Lucas kicked the goal and the Marlins were home 16-15 in an absolute thriller.
Where it was won: Manly's defence was superb on Tuesday night and they backed that up against the Rebels. That laid the platform for the win, with the Marlins scoring two tries to nil. To keep top four sides Easts and Souths to just one try between them in 160 minutes is a tremendous effort in anyone's language
Marlins' best: Lucas was in everything as was returning second-rower Ed Gower, who punched out 80 quality minutes. Elliott and James Graham were also great value and Josh Turner produced moments of magic.
Lock Ed Gower on the rampage - photo Adam MacDonald
What they said: "Three wins in a week is an awesome result for us. The belief was always there, even at 9-3. We’ve been struggling coming into this week but we'll get a lot out of these wins. Wins like that can make a season. I've loved being back and I will get behind the boys for the rest of the season." – halfback Matt Lucas, who now returns to the Waratahs
"To knock off two quality sides (Easts and Souths) is awesome. If we don't pick up eight points our season could have been over. We're right back in it now." – Damien Cummins
Oddspot: With the crowd going a little quiet in the second half, Turtle reached for the walkie talkie and asked ground announcer Mike Westdorp to rev the Marlins faithful up. Westy turned evangelist for the last 20 minutes and the support helped get the home side across the line
Where to from here: It's out to Nepean to meet the Penrith Emus on Saturday