Manly Warringah Sea Eagles suffered an 18-4 loss to the Melbourne Storm at Lottoland today in the opening round of the Telstra Premiership.
The match marked the club debut for hooker Danny Levi and the 150th game for popular Sea Eagles winger Jorge Taufua.
With the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world, Manly’s High Performance Unit came up with an idea of washing the footballs with detergent and water each time a ball was passed back from the crowd to help prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 virus.The Sea Eagles’ ball kids also swapped gloves each time.
In front of a crowd of 10, 315, there was plenty of aggression early with Manly centre Moses Suli producing two back-to-back ferocious tackles inside the Storm’s quarter in the opening minutes.
Melbourne captain and hooker Cameron Smith opened the scoring with a penalty goal in the seventh minute for a 2-0 lead.
The Sea Eagles had a successful Captain’s Call challenge by Daly Cherry-Evans that resulted in an offside call and scrum win to Manly 10 metres out in the 33rd minute.
A minute later, Manly winger Reuben Garrick converted a penalty goal from out wide for a 2-2 scoreline.
Garrick then converted a second penalty attempt from 18 metres out near the posts to give the Sea Eagles a 4-2 lead at half-time.
Taufua didn’t let his reputation as a hard hitting defender down when he pulled off another classic tackle on Storm centre Marion Seve not long after half-time.
The Storm took a 6-4 lead when winger Suliasi Vunivalu swooped on a crossfield kick by half-back Jahrome Hughes to score in the 61st minute. Smith converted the try from the sideline for an 8-4 lead.
Three minutes later, Vunivalu scored his send try for a 12-4 lead in the same way off another Hughes kick after the Storm regathered the ball from an initial kick and kept it alive. Smith converted the try for a 14-4 lead with 14 minutes remaining.
The Storm secured victory when Tom Eisenhuth placed a hand on the ball to score from a Smith grubber kick with five minutes remaining. Smith failed to convert his own try for an 18-4 scoreline.
Manly play the Sydney Roosters at Central Coast Stadium next Saturday.