The premiership winning Harold Matthews team of 2021 will certainly go down as one of the finest outfits in the proud history of the Sea Eagles.
Under Coach Adam McEwan, the Sea Eagles dominated the U17s competition to finish undefeated Minor Premiers and Premiers.
Along the way, the Sea Eagles recorded some very impressive wins, including downing the Newcastle Knights 40-0, Balmain Tigers 48-6 and the Penrith Panthers 44-16 in three consecutive weeks to showcase their strength and unity.
The Sea Eagles came out victorious 24-12 against arch rivals Parramatta Eels in last Saturday’s Grand Final at Leichhardt Oval to claim the Club’s second Harold Matthews title. The first came in 2018 with a 26-18 win over Parramatta.
Saturday’s Grand Final produced a tense first half with the Sea Eagles taking a 10-point lead into half-time through tries to second-rower Roy Quiroz-Mapusua and winger Revelation Sio.
The Sea Eagles then piled on further tries to prop Samuela Fainu, winger Calvin Levy, and centre Josh Feledy.
It would have almost been an injustice for Feledy not to score. The outstanding attacking back and Manly captain finished the season with an astounding 20 tries from 10 matches.
Feledy said the premiership victory was a just reward for a superb team effort.
“We put in the effort all season and we deserve that win. Our energy was just insane, the positive vibes from our boys this week and in the Grand Final was just crazy.” Feledy said.
Hooker Ollie Cummins, who was taken from the field with an injury early in the second half, said he was immensely proud of the side and how they pushed through.
“It was really good, even when I went off, they still had a good attack through the middle, they put in the extra effort and pushed hard to come out on top,’’ Cummins said.
“The Grand Final was one of the better games we played, it was good that we continued to push throughout the entirety of this match as well as this season. I think we just started harder than we did last time against the Eels. We came out in good shape and got off to a flying start.”
Five-eighth Latu Fainu claimed the man of the match award after playing a part in four of the five tries that Manly scored, both in hand and off the boot. He was also named the Player of the Series for the Harold Matthews Cup.
McEwen said his team showed tremendous spirit and stuck to their game plan.
“The boys went out there and played like they have all year, they stuck together, defended really well. And when it was time to play footy, they played footy. They earnt that win and I couldn’t be prouder,’’ McEwan said.
“This team always backs itself. The bond was just unbreakable which you could see in some of the results throughout the season. They are fantastic kids and they work hard. They got what they deserved.”
In acknowledgement of their magnificent season, the Harold Matthews team will be presented to the crowd at Lottoland prior to this Sunday's NRL home match against the Warriors.
Highlights: Harold Matthews Cup Grand Final
2021 Grand Final
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 24 (Roy Quiroz-Mapusua, Revelation Sio 28, Samuela Fainu, Calvin Levy, Josh Feledy tries; Ollie Cummins goal, TJ Herring goal) d Parramatta Eels 12 (Declan Murray 45, Blaiz Talagi tries, Ethan Sanders 2 goals), Leichhardt Oval, May 1, Half-time: Manly 10-0, Man of the Match: Latu Fainu.
1 Lehi Hopoate, 2 Calvin Levy, 3 Eli Sagala, 4 Josh Feledy (c), 5 Revelation Sio, 6 Latu Fainu, 7 Rory Morgan, 8 Samuela Fainu, 9 Ollie Cummins, 10 Ropeti Lole, 11 Dylan Coutts, 16 Drew Williams, 13 Noa Faatui; interchange: 14 Mitchell Taotua, 15 Rene Bagon, 17 TJ Herring, 18 Zedrick Tupulua; reserve: Roy Quiroz-Mapusua. Coach: Adam McEwan.
Manly's undefeated season
Rd 1 d Parramatta Eels 22-14, Cabramatta Sports Ground; Rd 2 d South Sydney 30-12, Redfern Oval; Rd 3 bye; Rd 4 d Western Suburbs Magpies 20-14, Lottoland; Rd 5 d Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 14-10, Lottoland; Rd 6 d Newcastle Knights 40-0, Cessnock Sports Ground; Rd 7 d Balmain Tigers 48-6,
Rd 8 d Penrith 44-16, Lottoland; Rd 9 d St George-Illawarra 32-16, Mascot Oval; Elimination Final - week off; Grand Final Qualifier: d Wests 32-12,Leichhardt Oval, Grand Final: d Parramatta 24-12, Leichhardt Oval.