A dominant performance by the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles record a crushing 50-18 victory over the Nth Qld Cowboys at 4 Pines Park tonight.
Prior to the round 14 kick-off, the Sea Eagles paid tribute to its late Immortal Bob Fulton with his eight grandchildren taking part in a special ceremony. The crowd also stood as one in the 175th second of the game to applaud Fulton's brilliant career.
The match also marked the NRL debut of hard running prop Kurt De Luis, who became Sea Eagle #631. His family flew in from Perth for the match.
An early error from the Sea Eagles in the opening set of the match saw the Cowboys capitalise to score the first try in the second minute. Winger Murray Taulagi latched onto a crossfield kick to fall over the line. Valentine Holmes converted for a 6-0 lead.
The Cowboys ran in for their second try five minutes later with centre Javid Bowen crossing in the corner after being on the receiving end of a pin-point cut-out pass from five-eighth Scott Drinkwater. Holmes slotted the conversion from the sideline to extend their lead to 12-0.
Off the back of a penalty 20 metres out from their own line, the Sea Eagles surged upfield and went close to scoring, with returning five-eighth Kieran Foran orchestrating the play, nearly resulting in a try from centre Moses Suli. The ball was lost in the process but Manly gained the ball back through a high shot on the latter from Cowboys halfback Tom Dearden.
In the set that followed, winger Brad Parker again linked up with Foran to find a hole in the line. The winger slipped on the grass before quickly regathering his feet to dive over in the 12th minute. Reuben Garrick, who was filling in at fullback for NSW Origin hero Tom Trbojevic, missed the conversion to bring the score to 12-4.
Manly Captain Daly Cherry-Evans ran hard at the line before sending the ball out to Parker, who again found himself in space. The winger handed it off to second-rower Karl Lawton who was dragged down just shy of ten metres out. Foran put a cheeky grubber kick through in an attempt to trick the defence but the ball was ultimately turned over as the ball went over the dead ball line.
A smart crossfield kick from hooker Lachlan Croker saw the Sea Eagles’ second try with second-rower Haumole Olakau’atu leaping through the air to snatch the ball from the opposition’s hands and wrestle away to score seven minutes after the first try. Garrick converted for a 12-10 scoreline.
Club debutant Kurt De Luis ran onto the field in the 24th minute, becoming Sea Eagle #631 in the process.
Suli was close to giving his side the lead with Cherry-Evans floating a ball over the top of the Cowboys’ defenders with a solid pass to find the centre. He battled to force himself over, only to be taken over the sideline for a no try call.
With five minutes left to play in the first half, Lawton bagged himself a try after scooping the ball out of dummy half and burying himself underneath the defence at the line. A quick play the ball from Parker, who was unfortunate not to grab himself a second, was influential with the quick play the ball. Garrick made the conversion to give Manly a 16-12 lead.
In quick retaliation, the Sea Eagles had another try two minutes later, with Croker scoring underneath the posts. The hooker quickly scooped the ball up just inside the Cowboys’ half and passed it to Suli, who handed it right back to the tryscorer behind the ruck. Garrick made the conversion from in front to give the Sea Eagles a 22-12 lead.
To cap off an amazing end to the first half, with three tries in four minutes, Olakau’atu scored his second just before the siren. A chip kick from Cherry-Evans to the right corner found the big second-rower, who dummied the ball and pushed off two defenders to score. Garrick made the conversion from the sideline to give the Sea Eagles a 28-12 lead at half-time.
Foran snatched a try three minutes into the second half. Cherry-Evans was once again involved, placing a grubber kick through which seemed to result in nothing. The ball rebounded off Cowboys’ Lachlan Burr and fell into the hands of Foran, who did well to put pressure on. Garrick converted to bring the score to 34-12.
Garrick scored an astounding 95 metre try in the 50th minute after gathering the ball off a grubber kick to outpace the Cowboys defence. He failed to convert his own try from the sideline for a 38-12 lead.
Utility Dylan Walker was another who made their return from injury in the match, coming onto the field in the 55th minute for De Luis, who had a solid stint over 30 minutes.
Match Highlights: Sea Eagles v Cowboys
The Cowboys sloppy night in defence continued with Walker getting himself on the scoresheet for the Sea Eagles in the 65th minute. Cherry-Evans put an early kick on the first tackle 40 metres out from the tryline and Walker did the rest, bursting past the tired defenders to score. Garrick made the conversion for a 44-12 scoreline.
The visitors then put on a try to speedy centre Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow. Holmes converted for a 44-18 lead with seven minutes remaining.
Garrick then converted Parker's second try from the sideline in the 78th minute to make it 50-18.