A superb team performance has seen the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles record a thumping 50-22 in Round 23 of the NSWRL Jersey Flegg Cup at 4 Pines Park today.
It was a dominant display by this very talented team who unfortunately are out of finals contention with one week remaining.
Had they made the finals, this Sea Eagles outfit could have done some serious damage as the fourth placed Sharks discovered with Manly beating them twice this season.
Unfortunately, some indifferent form, injuries to key men, and the NRL call up to Kaeo Weekes and Zac Fulton, made things a little harder for Coach Adam McEwen's men.
After a quiet start to the match, the Sea Eagles opened the scoring in the 11th minute after a beautiful short pass from halfback Tylor Bunting to second-rower Oliver Clements for the opening try and a 4-0 scoreline.
The Sharks hit back three minutes with a length of the field try from winger Samuel Stonestreet after a strong run from hooker Samuel Healey, levelling the scores at 4-all.
Manly replied three minutes later through second-rower Jason Smyth. Cronulla knocked the ball on from the kick-off, allowing for Smyth to score off the scrum with a strong run. Bunting converted for a 10-4 lead.
The Sea Eagles turned attack into defence and scored their third on the brink of halftime through captain Gordon Chan Kum Tong. Smyth took the ball out of dummy half and freed up a gap for the crafty hooker to dive over untouched. The try came minutes after a period of high pressure from the Sharks, highlighting the strength in defence from the home side. Bunting converted to give his side a 16-4 lead at the break.
The Sea Eagles got off to a stunning start in the second half, forcing an error from the opening tackle and then scoring moments later through winger Cameron Brown. The first tryscorer, Clements, drew the winger into the tackle and offloaded to Brown, who grounded the ball in the corner for a 20-4 scoreline.
Three minutes later and Manly had another through Weekes after a silly mistake from Cronulla in front of their own line. Weekes scooped up the ball and beat two defenders after a poor play from Cronulla’s Kane Ball and Stonestreet. Bunting converted to take the lead to 26-4.
The Sea Eagles had their third try in six minutes as Fulton got himself on the scoresheet. The lock ran a supporting run and took an easy pass after his teammate beat the fullback. Bunting converted to bring the score to 32-4.
A Chan Kum Tong strip at his side’s 30 metre line spearheaded the next try from centre Pepe-Jonah Palota-Kopa in the 49th minute. The ball was shifted to the left with some quick passes and found Palota-Kopa, who tucked his ears back and wrestled past the defence to score. Bunting converted from the sideline with a strong kick for a 38-4 lead.
The Sharks hit back with their first try in 37 minutes through five-eighth Tully Wilton, who wrestled past his opposing defender to ground the ball on the line to make it 38-10.
Cronulla had their second in the 53rd minute through winger Tom Rodwell after a sloppy error from the Sea Eagles for a 38-16 scoreline.
A handful of scrums from both sides around the middle of the field led to the next try for Cronulla with just under ten minutes to play. Hooker Samuel Healey burrowed under the defence and Petersen converted to take the score to 38-22
The Sea Eagles scored in the 64th minute in style with a stunning diving effort from Brown for his second try for a 44-22 lead.
Weekes then grabbed his second try when he showed sheer pace and elusiveness to score near the posts. Bunting converted for a 50-22 win.