Marlins alone on top of table after seeing off the premiers

By Adam Lucius
What: Shute Shield round 7
Who: Manly v Norths
Where: Manly Oval
Result: Manly 23-18
Manly are where on the table: First (34 points)
80 minutes in 80 seconds: Manly fans have been waiting a long time for this match after Norths kept us out of the last year's finals series with an after-the-bell sideline conversion. The Shoremen then stormed through the play-offs to win their first premiership since 1975. They lobbed at the Village Green on the back of 19 straight wins, wary that their last loss had been at the hands of Manly almost a year to the day. The hosts got off to a flyer, with a try from the back of a rolling maul and a Tommy Chesters intercept setting up a 14-0 lead. A converted try to Norths narrowed the gap to seven before Matt Lucas eased us 10 points in front with a penalty. The premiers struck back to score a try and consecutive penalties, nosing ahead 18-17 after half an hour. With Norths losing a player to the sin bin on halftime, Lucas restored Manly's lead with a penalty. Matty's left boot provided the only points of a gripping second half as the Marlins ground out a tough five-point victory.  
Where it was won: It's fair to say both teams weren't quite at their best, but there was no lack of intensity, enthusiasm and physicality. Manly's goal-line defence and scramble – along with Lucas' trusty boot - was the difference in the end
Marlins' best: Mitch Lewis, Kotoni Ale, Matt Lucas, Dennis Pili-Gaitau
What they said: "There is a long way to go so we can’t read too much into a round seven result, but beating a quality side like Norths certainly gives us plenty of confidence. The good thing is we know we can play a lot better." – Manly captain Adrian Hall
Odd Spot: There were a few raised eyebrows when the Marlins elected to shoot for goal at 70 minutes with Norths dropped to 14 men after losing a player to the bin for the second time in the game. But it was the right move. Matty Lucas' penalty meant the Shoremen had to go all out for a try to win it, rather than take advantage of several penalties from close range. They couldn’t manage a late five pointer and the Marlins are now the only undefeated team left in the comp.    
Where to from here: The Marlins are on the road, taking in the sights of Chatswood for a tricky clash with the much improved Gordon

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