A disappointing Manly Warringah Sea Eagles suffered a 40-6 loss to premiership contenders Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks tonight in Round 23 of the Telstra Premiership.
The last home game of the season for the Sea Eagles saw the final appearance at 4 Pines Park in Sea Eagles colours for Kieran Foran, Dylan Walker and Martin Taupau.
One of Manly's most favourite sons, Foran played nine seasons at Brookvale (2009-15, 2021-22), winning a premiership in 2011. Walker and Taupau have also left a great legacy in their seven years at the club.
Former Manly U20s player Nicho Hynes scored the first try for the Sharks after six minutes, chasing a chip kick over the defence that luckily bounced in his favour after hitting the right post. He converted his own try from in front for a 6-0 scoreline.
Royce Hunt scored Cronulla’s second in the 15th minute after the prop took a short ball off the ruck to push off two defenders. Hynes converted for a 12-0 lead.
Cronulla five-eighth Matt Moylan scored in the 28th minute after spinning out of a defender’s tackle at the tryline. Hynes converted to extend the lead to 18-0.
Sharks winger Matt Ikuvalu went over untouched after a phenomenal cut-out pass from Hynes on the cusp of halftime. Hynes converted for a 22-0 lead at half-time.
The Sea Eagles' first real opportunity came in the 45th minute through the combination of Haumole Olakau’atu and fullback Tolutau Koula. The big second-rower fooled the defence with his steps and found some space for the speedster in Koula, who placed a chip kick over the top. The youngster chased hard but ultimately was denied by the goalpost as the Sharks got the ball back.
In the very next set, Hynes kicked a whopping 40/20 for Cronulla, propelling the side deep into Manly territory. The kick however was wasted, as they didn’t manage to utilise the situation and turned over the ball.
Hynes scored his second for the Sharks in the 51st minute after taking an offload from forward Andrew Fifita. The tryscorer converted his own kick for a 28-0 scoreline.
In a matter of minutes, Cronulla had another when second-rower Briton Nikora got on the end of a loose ball from a deflected kick to score. Hynes converted from in front to extend the lead to 34-0.
Foran was then hit with a bone-rattling shot by Sharks prop Braden Hamlin-Uele in front of the Lyons-Menzies Stand. To his credit, the veteran dusted himself off and played the ball as the side continued their attack.
Cherry-Evans placed a grubber kick through to the in-goal in the 62nd minute that bounced up perfectly. Croker and utility lock Dylan Walker, with Croker unfortunately dropping the ball whilst trying to regather it.
The Sharks pushed downfield and forced a repeat set one minute later with a smart play from utility Braydon Trindall. From the drop-out, centre Brad Parker leapt into the air and won the ball back for his side.
Two repeat sets and a silly mistake gifted Cronulla their try in the 71st minute as Ikuvalu pounced on a loose ball in-goal for his second of the match. Hynes converted for a 40-0 lead.
Cherry-Evans grabbed a consolation try in the 76th minute in his 281st match for the club, moving him into second overall for matches played in the club’s rich history. The try was the captain’s fourth of the season and the 75th of his career. He converted his own try for a final scoreline of 40-6.
The Sea Eagles now play the Canberra Raiders in Round 24 on Saturday August 27, at 3pm at GIO Stadium, Canberra.