Two tries from Josh Aloiai combined with some great defensive steel saw the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles record one of their finest wins of the season at Campbelltown Sports Stadium today.
Aloiai crossed for the first and last tries of the match in Manly’s 30-4 win over the Wests Tigers. Aloiai has now scored three tries this year against his former club.
Barnstorming second-rower Haumole Olakau’atu and passionate Manly lock and stand-in captain Jake Trbojevic had huge games to again push their names forward for representative honours in the next fortnight.
Manly Captain Daly Cherry-Evans withdrew from the team on Saturday with a quad injury sustained in State of Origin on Wednesday night. It saw Josh Schuster move from the second-row to five-eighth with Ben Trbojevic coming into the team after recovering from a shoulder injury.
The Tigers threw plenty early at the Sea Eagles in attack with Manly’s defence standing firm in the opening 10 minutes.
Two minutes later, Wests Tigers centre Brent Naden had a try denied by the NRL bunker after replays showed he dropped the ball over the line.
The Sea Eagles grabbed the first points in the 17th minute through Josh Aloiai. The prop was guided into a gap by lock Jake Trbojevic, who got the ball as first receiver and popped the ball back on the inside, setting Aloiai for an easy try. Fullback Reuben Garrick converted from next to the posts for a 6-0 scoreline.
Manly were centimeters away from their second try in the 31st minute as a pass from Schuster to winger Jason Saab was deemed forward.
The Tigers scored with just over five minutes to play in the half, diving over through second-rower Luke Garner after a good overlap on the left edge to bring the score to 6-4 which remained that way to half-time.
Manly centre Morgan Harper made a try-saving tackle on his left edge in the 43rd minute, bringing his opposing centre down metres from the tryline with a strong tackle around the hips.
Three minutes later, the Sea Eagles were successful with a Captain’s Challenge 15 metres out from the Tigers’ tryline and were awarded a penalty for an illegal ball strip, but unfortunately gave the ball away moments later after throwing an intercept.
At the other end of the field in front of their own tryline, Olakau’atu forced a one-on-one strip to win the ball back for his side in what was a crazy few minutes. Saab streaked down the sideline after a good shift in play and was brought down just inside the Tigers half.
Manly attempted to run the ball on last with Garrick being tackled metres out from the line, turning the ball over and bringing an end to the set.
Garrick scored for the Sea Eagles in the 54th minute, slipping out of a tackle and regaining his balance to ground the ball in the right corner.
Moments earlier, Olakau’atu made a stunning tackle break after brushing past a defender to set his side up in optimal field position. The tryscorer converted from a tricky angle to extend the lead out to 12-4.
Manly once again showcased their strength in defence and rushed up with hard shots on each tackle, forcing the Tigers to kick from inside their own 30 metre line. In their next attacking set, Foran played a smart grubber kick through to the in-goal area to force a drop-out.
Olakau’atu scored his seventh try of the season in the 61st minute with a barnstorming run, spinning out of a tackle and beating four defenders to ground the ball on the tryline for a 16-4 scoreline.
Tigers centre Brent Naden was sent off in the 64th minute for a dangerous spear tackle on Jake Trbojevic.
Garrick converted a penalty goal two minutes later for an 18-4 lead.
With the numbers advantage, the Sea Eagles dominated in defence and field position as they forced the Tigers to kick from their own 20m line. With just over six minutes to play, Manly had a possession percentage of 56%, highlighting how strong they’ve been in attack.
Sea Eagles centre Tolu Koula scored his first career try in the 75th minute in a long-range effort. Koula got the ball just short of the halfway line and danced his way past defenders to find a gap.
He found himself in space and blitzed his way past the fullback to race away and score under the posts. Garrick converted to extend the lead to 24-4.
Three minutes after his team’s last try, Aloiai scored once again to haunt his old side, bumping off one defender with a strong run before using his footwork to score his second try of the day. Garrick converted to take the score out to 30-4.
Manly play the Cowboys in Round 15 of the NRL Telstra Premiership at 4 Pines Park on Friday June 17, 6pm.