Manly Warringah Sea Eagles finished their 2022 Telstra Premiership season with a 21-20 loss to the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at Accor Stadium tonight.
The saw the Sea Eagles finish the year in 11th place with nine wins to their name in a disappointing season for the club.
The match marked the final appearance in a Manly jersey for departing players Kieran Foran, Dylan Walker, Martin Taupau, and Andrew Davey.
James Roumanos became the 640th player to play for the Sea Eagles with the 23-year-old making his NRL debut against the Bulldogs.
Centre Brad Parker (hamstring) and prop Josh Aloiai (compassionate grounds) missed the game.
Kaeo Weekes, who lined up at fullback in his first start for the Sea Eagles, took a high kick safely to end the Bulldogs’ first attacking set as the rain began to pour down in front of a crowd of 13,648.
Manly opened up their account in flying colours after just four minutes through halfback Daly Cherry-Evans. Prop Tofofoa Sipley made a big break through the middle of the field and passed to lock Dylan Walker, who threw a behind the back pass to his captain for the try. Cherry-Evans converted from in front for a 6-0 lead.
Off the back of a penalty for a mid-air tackle on centre Tolutau Koula, the Sea Eagles were in again through winger Christian Tuipulotu in the 12th minute. Cherry-Evans was the master mind in the play as he threw a cut-out pass from first receiver to send Tuipulotu over for a 10-0 scoreline.
Foran used the rain to his ability and placed a kick perfectly into the in-goal, forcing a repeat set. With the set from the drop-out and another fresh set from a knock-on, Manly scored their third five minutes after their last when Taupau crashed past a defender to score next to the posts. Cherry-Evans converted to take the score to 16-0.
The Bulldogs looked to have grabbed one back in the 24th minute through winger Josh Addo-Carr only for Tuipulotu to take him into touch.
After a handful of errors from both sides, Canterbury utilised their chances and scored in the 28th minute through centre Braidon Burns after a wonderful hold-up play from second-rower Raymond Faitala-Mariner. Five-eighth Matt Burton converted from the sideline for a 16-6 scoreline.
Canterbury scored then second through hooker Zach Dochar-Clay after he sneaked out of dummy half. Burton converted for a 16-12 scoreline at half-time.
Weekes was unfortunately denied his first NRL try in the 49th minute after it was ruled that he knocked the ball on after sliding a few metres into the in-goal.
Bulldogs centre Aaron Schoupp scored a 90 metre runaway try a minute later after intercepting a pass from Foran, levelling the scores at 16-all in the process.
The Sea Eagles scored their first points in 46 minutes thanks to a try from second-rower Haumole Olakau’atu in the 63rd minute. Croker scooped the ball out of dummy half and poked a grubber kick through for the chasing Olakau’atu to score his tenth try of the season, taking a 20-16 lead for his side.
Bulldogs halfback Kyle Flanagan scored a scrappy try with just over four minutes remaining after a bat-back from Burton and a flick pass from second-rower Tevita Panga Junior, levelling the scores at 20-all with not much time left on the clock.
A knock-on from Weekes at his own 20 metre line set the scene for a tense finish, testing the Sea Eagles defence at the line. After forcing the error with his kick moments earlier, Burton sunk a field goal from 15 metres out to claim a 21-20 win.