A gallant Manly Warringah Sea Eagles suffered a 26-12 loss to the South Sydney Rabbitohs in wet conditions at Lottoland tonight in Round 2 of the NRL Telstra Premiership.
Prior to kick-off, the Sea Eagles held a moment's silence in remembrance of the Club's first premiership winning captain, Fred Jones, who passed away today at the age of 79.
Jones played 241 games for the Club and captained Manly to the 1972 and 1973 premierships. The Sea Eagles wore black armbands to honour one of the Club's greatest players.
In team changes, Taniela Paseka was promoted from the bench to start at prop for Josh Aloiai. The Sea Eagles also lost second-rower Curtis Sironen yesterday to a knee injury (4-6 weeks).
With torrential rain hitting Sydney, a brave crowd of 3218 braved the wet conditions to see which team would record their first win of the season.
The Sea Eagles were dealt an early blow when second-rower Andrew Davey went down in the third minute with a knee injury in his first home game for the Sea Eagles. He was replaced by Josh Schuster in just his second NRL appearance.
Manly Coach Des Hasler confirmed post match that Davey has suffered a likely season ending ACL injury.
A strong fourth tackle kick from Rabbitohs halfback Adam Reynolds placed some pressure on Manly, with the kick being gathered in the corner a few metres out by full-back Dylan Walker.
In the seventh minute, Rabbitohs five-eighth Cody Walker orchestrated the first try of the game. He shifted the ball to fullback Latrell Mitchell who batted the ball immediately to winger Alex Johnston, who then passed back for Walker to cross. Reynolds missed the conversion for a 4-0 scoreline.
Match Highlights: Sea Eagles v Rabbitohs
Manly had a chance to hit back almost instantly after Rabbitohs’ centre Campbell Graham dropped the ball off the kick-off, but were unable to capitalise with captain Daly Cherry-Evans dropping the ball in an attempted offload two tackles later.
The Sea Eagles had another error through Walker in the 13th minute, giving the away side another chance at the line. They capitalised, with Reynolds regathering his own grubber kick after Walker slipped in the wet conditions. He converted his own try to extend the lead to 10-0.
Manly got their first penalty of the game 17 minutes in and then followed up with a successful captain’s challenge, giving them a chance to get points on the board.
Schuster gained another penalty 10 metres out after being taken out in the kick chase by Reynolds. Unfortunately, they were unable to use the momentum after a sloppy error in the play the ball.
Rabbitohs hooker Damien Cook slipped through Manly’s defence in the 25th minute after a strong run from lock Cameron Murray but was stopped inches from the line.
A minute later, Cherry-Evans made a strong break downfield, grubber kicking the ball through the line and kicking the ball again into the Rabbitohs’ tryline. In the play, fullback Latrell Mitchell interfered with Cherry-Evans’ run, getting sin-binned in the process.
In the set that followed, Sea Eagles hooker Lachlan Croker fooled the Rabbitohs’ defenders with a big fake out of dummy half, dummying the ball and wrestling over to score the home side’s first points of the match in the 27th minute. Winger Reuben Garrick converted to make the score 10-6.
With 10 minutes to play in the first half, Manly five-eighth Kieran Foran showed his leadership, linking up with Schuster to put a big shot on and stop the Rabbitohs attack right at the line.
Mitchell returned to the field with three minutes remaining, as Cherry-Evans defused a Reynolds’ kick into the tryline, giving the Rabbitohs a chance to score just before the half.
A poor kick through gave Manly a seven tackle set, hoping to retaliate. Reynolds replied to his poor kick minutes before, kicking a 40/20 with 30 seconds remaining.
The Rabbitohs put a desperate kick through on the last play with Mitchell gathering the ball to score right on half-time.
Reynolds missed the conversion to leave the Rabbitohs leading 14-6 at half-time.
The Rabbitohs opened the second half with forward Jaydn Su’a regathering a deflected Reynolds kick. Cody Walker fumbled the ball at the line, with Manly full-back Dylan Walker getting the ball and darting 35 metres downfield. Following this play, Reynolds took a head knock from his own team-mate, leaving the field for a HIA.
Manly winger Jason Saab dropped the ball downfield in the corner after going up to contest a bomb kick scuppering their chance to close out an an exciting opening two minutes of the second half.
Saab then showed his pace by making a 45 metre break down field after supporting Walker, only to be cut down by Cook.
Forward Martin Taupau and Cherry-Evans forced an error from Murray in the 56th minute. Two minutes later, Taupau scored off a great pass by Taniela Paseka. Garrick converted to make the score 14-12.
Cade Cust, who was impressive last week for Blacktown, went off after 10 minutes with concussion.
Cook scooted the ball out of dummy half in the 64th minute, wrestling over to score and extend the Rabbitohs lead. Cook was allowed to be in good position thanks to the previous play in the set, which saw veteran Benji Marshall break through the line, offloading to forward Mark Nicholls who got a quick play the ball. Mitchell converted for a 20-12 scoreline.
With eight minutes to play and the home side down, the Manly halves combined as Foran chipped over the heads of the Rabbitohs defenders to find Cherry-Evans. He was brought down inside the 10 to hand the ball over on last tackle.
The Rabbitohs closed out the game, with Johnston sliding over for a try in the 74th minute, with Mitchell having a key part again with his quick hands to find the winger. The fullback converted from the sideline to extend the lead to 26-12.
Jaydn Su’a was sent to the sin bin with one second remaining for a tussle between two teams, with the away side choosing to take a chance for two additional points on the board. Mitchell missed the conversion for the 26-12 scoreline.
The Sea Eagles now travel to WIN Stadium, Wollongong, to play the St George Illawarra Dragons on Friday, March 26 at 6pm.