An impressive performance by a dominant Manly Warringah Sea Eagles pack laid the platform for a 30-20 win over the Parramatta Eels today in the NSWRL SG Ball Cup competition.
Led by hard running props James Uesele and Faafetai Autagavaia, the Sea Eagles were aggressive from the outset with the entire Manly pack turning in some strong performances in a very physical season opener at New Era Stadium, Cabramatta.
Manly captain Gordon Chan Kum Tong was inspirational at hooker and second-rower Zane Dunford turned in a tireless performance.
Smart half-back Jamie Humphreys took advantage of the good work of his forwards to score two tries and kick five goals from five attempts for a personal tally of 18 points. He also combined well with five-eighth Krystian Mapapalangi, who had a strong game.
Manly Coach Brett Fulton was a pleased man at full-time after what was a very good team win.
In a match played in wet conditions at times, the Eels were left a man short in the 11th minute when prop Brock Parker was sent to the sin bin after holding down a player too long in a tackle following a great break by Manly full-back Luke Tucker.
Manly took advantage immediately when Autagavaia scored next to the posts. Humphreys converted for a 6-0 lead after 16 minutes.
From the re-start, the Sea Eagles made a 70 metre break downfield through winger Cameron Brown. A quick play the ball saw the ball spun right for Tucker to score out wide. Humphreys converted for a 12-0 lead after 18 minutes.
Chan Kum Tong showed his leadership qualities when he raced 40 metres from a scrum to tackle Parramatta full-back Tyrone Sau who was destined to score. On the next play the ball, the Eels dropped the ball.
The Eels were then camped inside the Sea Eagles quarter and through repeated sets and the sin-binning of Manly second-rower Siua Fotu, the pressure finally told when Parker scored under the posts. Five-eighth Josh Chappell converted for a 12-6 scoreline at half-time.
The Sea Eagles got off to a poor start in the second half with Parramatta crossing two minutes after the break through winger Tutonu Junior Wright from a Chappell grubber kick. Chappell converted for a 12-all scoreline.
Chappell then gave the Eels a 14-12 lead through a penalty goal in the 42nd minute before Manly hit back when prop James Uesele crashed over next to the posts from a good offload by Autagavaia. Humphreys converted for an 18-14 lead with 18 minutes remaining.
Some poor mistakes from both sides continued to appear before Parramatta centre Jabriel Kalache beat a defender to score out wide. Chappell converted to give the Eels a 20-18 lead after 55 minutes.
Manly regained the lead with 10 minutes remaining when Humphreys faked to kick before stepping past three defenders to score a brilliant individual try next to the posts. He converted his own try for a 24-20 lead.
Six minutes later, a quick penalty tap from Chan Kum Tong saw Humphreys show his pace to split the defence in an impressive run to score his second try under the posts. He converted his own try for the 30-20 win.