Minor premiers Cronulla have seen their Holden Cup season ended with a shock 42-22 loss to Manly.
The young Sharks took on the Sea Eagles in an elimination under-20s semi-final at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night after Cronulla had fallen to Parramatta in their qualifying final last weekend.
Cronulla were the dominant side over the regular season, wrapping up the minor premiership with three weeks to spare. But the 20-point loss to Manly was their fourth in a row to end their season after defeats to the Sydney Roosters and Newcastle ended their league campaign before last week’s loss to the Eels.
The young Sharks had started brightly, with Jesse Ramien giving them the lead inside two minutes when he crossed in the corner.
Manly five-eighth Tom Wright hit back with a pair of tries to give the Sea Eagles a 12-6 lead after 15 minutes before Manly prop Jaiden Tarrant extended their advantage midway through the half, carrying three defenders with him over the line.
Billy Magoulias reduced the deficit when he touched down from a Blayke Brailey grubber kick but the Sea Eagles ensured they would take a 12-point lead to the break when fullback Jade Anderson scored.
But Cronulla’s chances of a comeback were hit hard early in the second half when Wright completed his hat-trick to have Manly out to a 32-12 advantage.
The Holden Cup’s leading scorer Sione Katoa and Luke Metcalf crossed late for Cronulla but the damage was done, with the Sea Eagles running out 42-22 winners.
Manly advance to the preliminary final where they will meet St George Illawarra. The young Dragons earned themselves a week off when they downed Penrith in their qualifying final last week.
Manly Sea Eagles 42 (Tom Wright three, Jaiden Tarrant, Jade Anderson, Alfred Smalley, Josh Martin, Haumole Olakau’atu tries. Tevita Funa five goals)
Cronulla Sharks 22 (Jesse Ramien, Billy Magoulias, Sione Katoa, Luke Metcalf tries. Kyle Flanagan three goals)
at ANZ Stadium