An understrength Manly Warringah Sea Eagles suffered a disappointing 20-6 loss to the St George-Illawarra Dragons at Jubilee Stadium tonight in round 19 of the Telstra Premiership.
The match saw the NRL debut of exciting young full-back Kaeo Weekes while prop Martin Taupau played his 150th game for Manly. Toff Sipley played his 50th NRL game.
The Sea Eagles, who went into the game on the back of four wins from their last five matches, were missing Jake Trbojevic, Andrew Davey and Lachlan Croker through Covid.
Match Highlights: Dragons v Sea Eagles
Manly wore a replica jersey of their iconic ‘Pepsi’ jersey, made famous in the 1996 premiership winning season.
St. George dominated possession in the opening stages which ultimately led to the first try in the 11th minute through halfback Ben Hunt. Centre Zac Lomax converted for a 6-0 scoreline.
Second-rower Ben Trbojevic was taken from the field for a HIA five minutes later after getting his head in an awkward position in a tackle on prop Ben Lawrie.
A minute later, Hunt had his second try after chasing down a grubber kick from Dragons five-eighth Talatau Amone. Lomax converted for a 12-0 lead.
The Sea Eagles were forced to roll the dice and try anything with their backs on their own tryline. With nine minutes to play in the half and just under 40% of possession under their belt, Manly had to dig deep in the wet conditions.
Lomax converted a penalty goal in the 39th minute for an illegal strip to give the Dragons a 14-0 lead at half-time.
Prop Josh Aloiai opened Manly's account when he burrowed his way underneath two defenders to ground the ball next to the post in the 43rd minute. Fullback Reuben Garrick converted to bring the score to 14-6.
Manly were beginning to swing the possession in their favour after lacking in the first half, holding 57% of the ball in the opening eleven minutes of the second half with a handful of chances.
Both sides were then locked in an arm wrestle with the Sea Eagles struggling in attack with Weekes making his way onto the field for his NRL debut with 12 minutes remaining.
Aloiai then left the field in the final minute through injury before winger Matthew Feagai scoring in the corner. Lomax converted from the sideline for 20-6 win.
Round 19: Post Match Press Conference
The loss leaves the Sea Eagles in eighth place on 20 points equal with the Dragons with six rounds remaining.
Manly play the Sydney Roosters in a vital home match at 4 Pines Park next Thursday night at 7.50pm.