A dominant first half performance laid the foundation for a strong Manly Warringah Sea Eagles victory in the Jersey Flegg Cup tonight at 4 Pines Park.
The Sea Eagles ran in eight tries to five to record a 44-24 victory over the Victorian Thunderbolts after leading 32-0 at half-time.
Manly were boosted by the inclusion of Top 30 NRL Squad players Kaeo Weekes at fullback and halfback Jamie Humphreys.
Despite five second-half tries from the opposition, the Sea Eagles managed to hold onto the lead to win the match, moving them level on points with the Thunderbolts in eighth place.
Fletcher Myers and Sanele Aukisitino each grabbed a pair of tries for the side's sixth win of the season.
Manly got off to a dream start when winger Sanele Aukusitino crashed over in the left corner after some great attacking play in the lead up from the kick-off. Jamie Humphreys failed to convert from the sideline for a 4-0 lead.
The Sea Eagles were in once again five minutes later through centre Fletcher Myers after a phenomenal cut-out pass from Jamie Humphreys. Humphreys converted to for a 10-0 scoreline.
Manly kept the momentum rolling and were on the scoreboard again in the 10th minute through forward Seturi Iakopo as he pushed past a handful of defenders to ground the ball on the tryline. Humphreys converted from next to the posts to take the score to 16-0.
The Thunderbolts were looking to get themselves back into the match but were met by a defensive wall, as three Sea Eagles players grouped in for a tackle to force the ball loose 20 metres out from the tryline. Unfortunately they weren’t able to capitalise and lost possession.
In the 19th minute, Weekes split the defence on the left edge with a scintillating run before jumping over a diving defender and running inwards to ground the ball closer to the posts. Humphreys conversion attempt shook the upright for an unsuccessful attempt, with the home side still maintaining a 20-0 lead.
Manly’s Sanele Aukusitino grabbed his second try in the 24th minute after brushing off his opposing winger's tackle attempt to score in the corner. Humphreys nailed the conversion attempt from the sideline for a 26-0 scoreline.
The Sea Eagles made something from nothing and sparked the attack straight from the kick-off, with a massive break down the left edge before Gordon Chan Kum Tong scored on the opposite edge. The crafty hooker fooled the defence with a dummy pass metres out from the line and went over untouched before grounding the ball behind the posts. Humphreys converted from in front to take the score out to 32-0 with four minutes to play.
The Thunderbolts scored four minutes into the second half through winger Tiraa Ua. The try was made possible by five-eighth Seamus King-Smith, who placed a pin-point bomb in the in-goal for the chasing winger, who came crashing down with the ball for the try. Ua converted his own four-pointer to bring the score to 32-6.
Manly lock Zane Dunford was placed on report for a dangerous tackle, but the Thunderbolts were unsuccessful in their attempts to find touch as the home side were gifted the ball back.
The Thunderbolts were in again five minutes later as hooker Cole Geyer spun out of a tackle to ground the ball over the line. Ua converted for a 32-12 scoreline.
Victoria had three tries in a row, two coming in a matter of minutes, as prop Sheldon Diaz crashed past the defence for a try, taking the score to 32-16 with 44 minutes played.
The Thunderbolts, with all the momentum, forced an error from the kick-off and handed the Sea Eagles a try three minutes after their own. Humphreys threw a cut-out from dummy-half metres out from the line and found utility Oliver Clements who had just one defender to beat. Humphreys converted from next to the post for a 38-16 scoreline.
Thunderbolts centre Ron Tooala scored with just over ten minutes remaining, burrowing underneath the defence to bring the score to 38-20.
Three minutes later and the Victorian side were in again through Tooala, as he dragged two defenders across the line with him to score, taking the score to 38-24.
An error from the Sea Eagles at their own twenty invited another chance for the Thunderbolts. The ball was eventually turned over metres out from the line as Victoria forward Adidis Karora dropped the ball as he ran into the defence.
Myers broke through the defence near the halfway mark and outpaced the fullback to score for Manly with just over a minute remaining in the match, having to wrestle past the defender in order to ground the ball. Humphreys converted for a final scoreline of 42-24, as the siren sounded for full-time.
The Sea Eagles play the St. George Illawarra Dragons at 4 Pines Park on Sunday July 10, at 1pm, in Round 17 of the NSWRL Jersey Flegg Cup.