A spirited Manly Warringah Sea Eagles recorded a crushing 28-6 victory over Parramatta Eels at Bankwest Stadium today in an emotional day for the Club.
The Sea Eagles were rocked with the news that Club Immortal Bob Fulton passed away this morning after a long illness. Fulton played 213 games for the Sea Eagles with the team wearing black armbands in his memory.
Fulton is the only person to both Captain and Coach the Sea Eagles to first grade premierships.
The Sea Eagles wore black armbands and a minute's silence was held prior to kick-off.
The match marked the 150th NRL game for Jake Trbojevic and the 100th game as Manly Captain for half-back Daly Cherry-Evans.
After soaking up some strong pressure from the Eels on their line, the Sea Eagles were rewarded when centre Brad Parker dived over to score the opening try after a well held up pass from full-back Tom Trbojevic down the left edge. Winger Reuben Garrick converted from the sideline to make the score 6-0.
A good link-up play from second-rower Isaiah Papali’i and fullback Clinton Gutherson saw a reply five minutes later for Parramatta, with the latter supporting the backrower and slipping past the defenders to score. Halfback Mitchell Moses converted to level the scores at 6-all.
Karl Lawton made a great start in his Club debut when he crossed in the 24th minute after a stunning short ball at the line from Josh Schuster, who was shifted from second row to five-eighth following Cade Cust’s injury. Garrick converted for a 12-6 lead.
Lawton was sent to the sin bin five minutes later for contact with the head in a tackle. Despite Parramatta having the numbers advantage, Manly held on and were given a penalty ten metres out form their line after being held back while trying to dive on the ball.
Despite being a man down and the pressure continuing to mount, the Sea Eagles managed to hold on and force an error from the Eels thanks to some big tackles in the set from the milestone men, Cherry-Evans and Trbojevic.
With less than a minute left to play in the first half, Parker grabbed his second try after regathering a kick from Garrick, who did well to stay in field and get a chip over the head of Gutherson.
Forward Sean Keppie and Schuster were influential with crucial offloads in the build-up. The other man who helped set up the try, Garrick, missed the conversion as the siren sounded for half-time, with the Sea Eagles holding a 16-6 lead.
A one-on-one strip from Manly prop Toafofoa Sipley three minutes into the second half saw another try scoring opportunity with Garrick going close to scoring from a diving effort but he was unable to hold onto the ball whilst grounding it.
Parramatta thought they had scored their second try in the 45th minute and began celebrating, only for the bunker to reverse the decision and give no try after hooker Reed Mahoney was ruled to be in an offside position.
The Sea Eagles capitalised quickly when Josh Schuster and Tom Trbojevic linked up again to put Garrick over for a try in the 48th minute. He converted his own try from the sideline to extend the lead to 22-6.
Match Highlights: Eels v Sea Eagles
Manly continued to dominate the match, rushing up in numbers to force the Eels back into their own half and bouncing back in attack immediately afterwards as they looked to close out the match.
Sea Eagles second-rower Haumole Olakau’atu was forced from the field for a HIA and Parramatta prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard was sent to the sin bin for contact with the head.
Manly lock Jake Trbojevic was sent to the sin bin two minutes later for taking out Gutherson in backplay.
The two sides were playing end-to-end football, with Garrick bursting through the Eels’ defence and chipping the ball over the head of Gutherson, only to be stopped by the ball hitting the post.
The victory in front of 24, 411 supporters ended Parramatta’s five match win streak and takes the Sea Eagles to six wins from the last seven matches.
Manly have moved into sixth spot and play the Newcastle Knights away next Sunday.