A gallant Manly Warringah Sea Eagles showed plenty of fighting spirit in a 20-10 loss to the Sydney Roosters at 4 Pines Park tonight in the annual NRL Women of League Round.
With seven regular players out, the match marked the NRL debut of Fijian Test winger Pio Sec, winger Alfred Smalley and lock Zac Fulton. Hooker James Segeyaro also made his Club debut for the Sea Eagles.
A Manly junior, Zac became the third generation of the famous Fulton family to play for the Sea Eagles. He is the grandson of Club Immortal Bob Fulton.
Wearing their 'Everyone in League' jersey, the Sea Eagles had a chance to open the scoring in the second minute through debutant winger Pio Seci. The ball was shifted right after winning the ball back from a kick, with Seci unfortunately being wrapped up metres out from the line.
Roosters halfback Sam Walker opened proceedings with a penalty goal in the fourth minute. The visiting side scored the opening try four minutes later through winger Daniel Tupou on the left edge after a cut-out pass from Walker for an 8-0 scoreline.
Seci had another chance denied in the corner after an obstruction call in the lead-up to the play, with the Manly side showing promising signs in the opening ten minutes.
Sea Eagles second-rower Ethan Bullemor flattened Walker with a barnstorming run as possession continued to move downfield, unfortunately conceding a penalty at the Roosters end of the field.
Roosters second-rower Nat Butcher scored at the 20-minute mark after a clever grubber kick through the line from fullback James Tedesco for a 12-0 lead.
The Sea Eagles forced a line drop-out in the 25th minute after drilling a grubber kick to the in-goal area. The kick took a deflection and was taken over the deadball line by a Roosters player.
In the set that followed, Manly had their first try through second-rower Andrew Davey after a sharp ball from Manly half-back Daly Cherry-Evans. Reuben Garrick converted for a 12-6 scoreline.
The Roosters won possession back thanks to a short kick-off attempt and scored shortly after through centre Joseph Manu for an 18-6 lead going into half-time.
The Roosters won possession after an early error and were awarded two penalties in the space of a minute deep in Manly’s territory, opting to take the shot at two points. Walker converted for a 20-6 scoreline.
The 52nd minute marked the debut of Zac Fulton off the bench, replacing Davey as he came off for a HIA.
Roosters forward Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was then penalised and placed on report after holding his elbow against Fulton’s throat whilst the away side were in possession of the ball.
The Sea Eagles were unfortunately denied a try in the 67th minute after a sensational effort from Cherry-Evans after he poked the ball along the ground with his finest soccer impersonation, beating three defenders with several kicks.
In the following set, the Roosters kept their composure and won the ball back as James Segeyaro took the field in his club debut for Manly in his first NRL match since 2019.
With just over three minutes remaining, Garrick placed a fine kick through to the in-goal area that sat up perfectly, forcing Tupou to take possession and be tackled. With the drop-out, Manly scored through Smalley for a try on his NRL debut.
Foran found himself in some space and held the ball up perfectly for Harper. The centre ran at the defender and passed to his winger outside who dived over in front of the Bob Fulton Stand for a 20-10 scoreline.
Morgan Harper and Egan Butcher were sent to the sin bin in the 79th minute after a scuffle following a high tackle. The Roosters took home the inaugural Gotcha4Life Cup played for between the two clubs now.
The Sea Eagles play the Parramatta Eels in Round 21 of the NRL Telstra Premiership on Friday August 5, 7.55pm, at 4 Pines Park.