An undefeated Manly Warringah Sea Eagles secured the Harold Matthews minor premiership title today at Lottoland.
The Sea Eagles were too good for the Balmain Tigers, winning 48-6 to finish the regular season with eight wins from eight matches under Coach Adam McEwan.
It was a dominant display from the home side, running out victors with nine tries to their name and maintaining strong defence up until the last minute.
Manly now has earned a week off next Saturday in the opening round of the finals.
Under McEwan, this is a serious rugby league that possesses a hard working, dominant forward pack combined with a great backline with plenty of speed and talent.
Sea Eagles captain and profilic tryscorer Josh Feledy grabbed the first try of the match in the second minute after bumping past two defenders before crashing over to score on the left edge. Halfback Ollie Cummins converted for a 6-0 lead.
A penalty from the re-start proved costly as Manly second-rower Roy Quiroz-Mapusua scored three minutes later, making a breakthrough the line before fending off the fullback and racing away to score. Cummins made the conversion to extend the lead to 12-0.
The two previous tryscorers linked up again for the third try in the 17th minute, with Quiroz-Mapusua making another big break before bumping off a defender and offloading to Feledy, who outpaced the fullback to grab his second for the day. Cummins converted to take the score to 18-0.
The Fainu brothers set up and scored the next try four minutes later, with five-eighth Latu running at the line before hitting prop Samuela with a short ball. The forward crashed past two defenders who couldn’t do anything to stop him. Cummins converted for a 24-0 scoreline.
Sea Eagles winger Antonio Taufa scored with 20 seconds remaining in the half as the ball was shifted to the right side of the field with some quick hands. Latu Fainu helped to get the side into good field position thanks to some strong footwork. Cummins missed the conversion from the sideline for a 28-0 lead at half-time.
Balmain centre Wade Zreika attempted to get his team back into the match five minutes into the second half as he scooped the ball up out of dummy half, only to be called back for double movement, halting their chances.
Quiroz-Mapusua scored his second try of the match in the 37th minute, with Fainu again influential in the play, running hard at the line before finding the big back-rower. Hooker Tj Herring converted from in front to extend the lead to 34-0.
Feledy grabbed his hat-trick in the 42nd minute, running a strong line off Fainu and finding another hole before diving over to score a magnificent try. Herring converted to bring the score to 40-0.
The Sea Eagles continued to be strong in defence, facing back-to-back sets in their own 20 and still managing to hold out the Balmain attack. Taufua stopped the attack and raced away downfield before being dragged down at the halfway line, gaining a penalty in the process.
Taufa scored his team’s eighth try in the 48th minute after centre Maxwell Taotua dragged the defender in before finding the winger, who strolled over easily in the corner. Herring missed the conversion to bring the score to 44-0.
The Sea Eagles found the line again with six minutes left in the match, this time down the left edge. Drew Williams ran hard at the line after catching a pass off Fainu, before drawing in the fullback and passing it to winger Calvin Levy. Herring missed the conversion for a 48-0 scoreline.
Balmain grabbed a consolation try with 30 seconds remaining after second-rower Andrew Musillo wrestled past two defenders to score in the right corner. Winger Eddie Markopoulos converted from the sideline as the siren sounded.