A superb defensive effort under pressure led the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles to a 24-20 victory over Newcastle Knights in round two of the SG Ball Cup on Saturday.
Leading 18-4 at half-time, the Sea Eagles had to overcome a heavy penalty count against them in the second half as the Knights piled on the points at St Johns Oval in Charlestown.
A fine first half from the Sea Eagles saw winger Simon Tito, lock Sione Fainu, five-eighth and captain Josh Schuster, cross for tries. Hooker Jack Birt kicked three goals.
The Knights then put on three tries to one in the second half through an enormous weight of possession but it wasn’t enough to deny the Sea Eagles the two well-deserved competition points. Manly’s lone try in the second half came through prop Viliami Fifita.
Sea Eagles Coach Brett Fulton was very pleased with the attitude of his players in defence.
“It was a great defensive effort. We had to defend multiple sets on our line and the boys just dug deep as a team. I was very proud of them,’’ Fulton said.
Fulton said hooker Jack Birt turned in a very strong game that included kicking four goals.
“Jack played really well. He is a fit young man who is very sound defensively and his attack was very good. He made some good breaks throughout the game.’’ Fulton added.
Forwards Zac Fulton and Giuseppe Plati turned in strong performances in their debut game in Sea Eagles colours.
Manly now play arch-rivals Parramatta Eels at New Era Stadium, Cabramatta, on Saturday, February 23, at 12 pm. Both teams are undefeated.
Sea Eagles team to play Eels
1 Kaeo Weekes
2 Simon Tito
3 Keegan Turner
4 Jonah Palota-Kopa
5 Uluaki Tuipulotu
6 Josh Schuster,captain (pictured right)
7 Jamie Lawler
8 Alec Tuitavake
9 Jack Birt
10 Viliami Fifita
11 Zac Fulton
12 Siua Fotu
13 Sione Fainu
15 Angus O'Donnell (pictured middle)
16 James Uesele
17 Christian Castles
18 Sam Pinomi
24 Ben Trbojevic (pictured left)
23 Cameron Brown