Manly Warringah Sea Eagles have today booked a place in the NSWRL SG Ball Cup Grand Final next Saturday.
In a dour struggle, the Sea Eagles overcame a nervous first half to record a 24-12 victory over the Central Coast Roosters in the preliminary final at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
The Sea Eagles will now play Illawarra Steelers in the Grand Final at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday, May 4 after beating Parramatta 26-22 earlier today at Campbelltown.
Minor premiers Manly went into the match after having last weekend off following a 36-6 win over Parramatta the week before. The third-placed Roosters advanced to the preliminary final with a 46-16 win over Canberra on Good Friday.
After a tight first 15 minutes, the Roosters opened the scoring when second-rower Riley Meyn ran into a hole off a short pass from full-back Sandon Smith. Five-eighth Reece Piepers converted for a 6-0 lead after 17 minutes.
Ten minutes later, the Sea Eagles got back to trail 6-4 when second-rower Siua Fotu crashed over in the left corner after good lead up work by five-eighth Joshua Schuster (below). Hooker Jack Birt failed to convert from the sideline.
The Roosters hit back minutes later when Meyn scored his second try near the posts for a 10-4 lead. Piepers converted for a 12-4 lead after 33 minutes.
Piepers then missed a penalty attempt inside the final minute from 30 metres out for a 12-4 lead at half-time to the Roosters.
The Sea Eagles hit back when hooker Gordon Chan Kum Tong made a determined run to the tryline to score next to the posts in the 47th minute. Winger Daniel Ala converted to leave Manly trailing 12-10.
A minute later, the Sea Eagles took the lead for the first time when lock Keegan Turner dived over in the right corner in the 49th minute after a nice pass from second-rower Zac Fulton. Ala failed to convert the try from the sideline to leave Manly with a 14-12 lead.
A flat pass from dummy half by Chan Kum Tong saw prop Tyreece Matangi crash over under the posts. Ala converted for a 20-12 lead with nine minutes remaining.
The Sea Eagles went further ahead through a try to full-back Kaeo Weekes in the left corner in the 63rd minute. Ala failed to convert the try from the sideline.