Manly stunned in Eels opener
A strong second half performance has seen the Parramatta Eels beat the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles in their round one clash at Pirtek Stadium.
The game had been hyped up by the return of Anthony Watmough against former club Manly and he was greeted early on when he lost the ball in the tackle, with Matt Ballin adding insult to injury with a rub in the face.
It was Parramatta who got off to the better start with solid aggression. They were rewarded early when they forced the ball off the Sea Eagles and turned their possession into points when Semi Radradra scored in the ninth minute when the Eels went wide.
The Sea Eagles responded in the best possible manner off the back of a penalty, and went very close when Cheyse Blair received a cut out pass to score in the corner. However, Foran’s pass was ruled forward by the Referee Matt Cecchin.
Moments later Manly were struck by injury when Clint Gutherson went down clutching his knee in a tackle and was replaced by debutant Blake Leary.
The side failed to make good on their possession and the Eels broke away when Radradra snatched the ball out of the air and bounded away. The break resulted in Manly conceding a penalty and Parramatta made them pay when Fullback Will Hopoate scored his first try of the season on the right hand side off Manly’s edge. Reece Robison was unable to stretch the lead and the score remained 10-0
Manly responded in brilliant fashion, when Club stalwart Brett Stewart received an inside ball from Foran and muscled his way to the try line, which was converted by skipper Jamie Lyon.
The northern beaches boys then staged some pressure forcing three repeat sets, which got to some off the Parramatta players with Junior Paulo being placed on report after his dump tackle on Matt Ballin.
Manly eventually made this pressure pay in the 33rd minute when Cheyse Blair finally got his try of a signature Manly backline move involving Foran and Stewart. The sweeping move found Blair and he cheekily improved the position, with Lyon converting for all six points.
Yet, it was Parramatta who rounded of the half better when Radradra scored his second. Quick hands from the Eels stretched Manly’s defence and scored in the corner to give Parramatta a 16-12 lead at halftime.
The second half started like the first ended with the Eels getting the better of the play.
Reece Robinson converted and early penalty to take it out to a six point lead, and with the following possession they scored the first try of the second half, when Chris Sandow was on hand to slam down Reece Robinson’s in field kick after he broke away down the touch line.
Parramatta continued to be relentless in attack and in the 53rd minute Radradra was in again after a cut out pass from Corey Norman. The try was converted by Reece Robinson to take the score to 30-12.
It was turning out to be Parramatta’s night, when Sandow recovered his own chip kick then spread it wide for Brad Takairangi, who scored his first try for Parramatta. Once again Robinson showed class with the boot to take the score to 36-12 Parramatta’s way.
The game was put to bed when Chris Sandow crossed for his second after Manly couldn’t turn some decent possession into points. The side could not tackle the Parramatta player and quick hands exposed a scattered Manly line allowing the Eels halfback to cross.
The match became heated when a brawl broke out when Brenton Lawrence and Manu Ma’u didn’t agree with each other.
The latter stages saw few chances for either side as it petered out, with Eels running home with a 42-12 victory over the Sea Eagles.