By Andrew Cupido.
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles recorded a 26-12 victory over the Canterbury Bulldogs in a fiery Harold Matthews Cup match at Belmore Sports Ground today.
Two unanswered tries helped the Sea Eagles take an 8-6 lead at the break, before fighting back in the second half with three consecutive tries to claim victory.
Five-eighth Kaeo Weekes put in a strong showing with a classy four-pointer, while dynamic fullback Toluau Koula was dominant at the back with two tries of his own.
Manly broke the dead lock after a hard-fought opening stanza with Koula streaking 40 metres down the left-hand touchline to score the maiden try of the afternoon.
It wasn’t long before Koula grabbed his second, scoring in the opposing corner to take an 8-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Manly were resilient with their goal-line defence after holding out an array of attacking raids from the Bulldogs, however, their efforts were short-lived after Compton Fuatimau was on the end of a towering cross-field bomb to hit back with a try of their own.
Khaled Rajab converted from in-front to set an 8-6 scoreline with just two minutes remaining in the first-half.
A costly error followed by a penalty off the ensuing set gifted the Eagles an easy two-points to take a 10-6 lead at halftime.
The Bulldogs stole the lead after hooker Danny Ghantous snuck his way over from dummy-half shortly after the break.
Trailing 12-10, the Eagles snatched the lead back when Weekes sliced through the defence before evading the full-back with sheer pace to score their third try.
Half-back Teddy Wilson nailed the sideline conversion to take a 16-12 lead with 15 minutes remaining .
Both sides were guilty of poor handling errors as full-time drew near, before the Eagles sealed the victory with Uluaki Tuipulotu brushing off defenders on his way to the try line.
Further ill-discipline crept in as both teams had players sin-binned for foul play, but Manly were still able to take advantage as Tuipulotu barged his way over just moments later to round-off a comfortable 26-12 victory.