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Broncos too strong for Sea Eagles in final Pre-Season Challenge Match

The Sea Eagles succumbed to a 40-14 defeat at the hands of the Broncos in their final Pre-Season Challenge match at 4 Pines Park on Saturday night. 

With both sides currently in camp in the United States ahead of the history-making season opener in Las Vegas, the remaining players back in Australia were out to prove a point, hoping to make their mark ahead of a big 2024.  

Manly went in with an advantage, boasting 257 games of NRL experience compared to Brisbane’s 143. But the weather and the occasion proved to be too much as the Broncos ran away with a dominant 26-point victory. 

The Sea Eagles walked away empty-handed, failing to get a Bonus Point. They finished with three tries (2 short), four line breaks (one short) and seven offloads (three short). The Broncos left with 14 out of a possible 15, meeting the criteria for tries and line breaks but falling short with offloads. 

After 97 career NRL games at centre and in his new-found position, second-rower Brad Parker crashed over for the Sea Eagles in the third minute after a well-timed pass at the line from five-eighth Jamie Humphreys. The latter nailed the conversion for an early 6-0 lead. 

Manly were in for their second try eight minutes later on the opposite edge through winger Max Lehmann. Centre Cameron Brown broke through the defence after a quick shift and passed to Lehmann who dived over untouched, taking his side's lead out to 10 points. 

Brisbane halfback Kurt Falls scored five minutes later with a simple show-and-go, faking a pass to the right and spinning out of a defender’s tackle to score under the posts. Five-eighth Josh Rogers converted from in front for a 10-6 scoreline. 

The Sea Eagles looked to be in for their third try, only for The Bunker to overrule the call and deny winger Watson Heleta in the process. Centre Clayton Faulalo timed his pass to free up Heleta, but Parker was deemed to have obstructed the defender in the leadup, resulting in a penalty for the Broncos instead. 

Blake Mozer crashed over under the posts for Brisbane’s second try after a short ball at the line from hooker Cory Paix. Rogers converted from in front to give the visitors a 12-10 lead with three minutes remaining in the first half. 

Broncos winger Sione Hopoate was awarded a penalty try on the stroke of halftime after Faulalo was ruled to have impeded him whilst attempting the grounding. Due to the Penalty Try, the conversion was successfully taken from in front by Rogers for an 18-10 scoreline at the break. 

Brisbane came out flying in the second half with a try after one minute through centre Delouise Hoeter in the right corner, pushing their lead out to 12 points. 
After battling for possession, fortune favoured Manly as they surged downfield for their third try in the 51st minute. Lehmann bagged his second for the night and dived over in the left corner untouched after a pinpoint cut-out pass from utility Tylor Bunting, bringing the score to 22-14. 

The Broncos scored three tries in 15 minutes from the 59th minute. Paix, Falls and Patston scored for the visitors and Rogers successfully converted all three attempts for a 40-14 scoreline.

Manly forward Caleb Navale was denied a consolation try in the final minute of play after he failed to ground the ball in the in-goal area following a grubber kick, with the siren sounding for the conclusion of the game shortly after. 

Broncos 40 (Tries: Falls 16’, Saitaua 35’, Hopoate 39’, Hoeter 40’, Paix 59’, Falls 63’, Patston 74’. Rogers 6/7 goals) def. Sea Eagles 14 (Tries: Parker 3’, Lehmann 11’, 51’. Humphreys 1/3 goals) 

History will be made next weekend when the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the opening clash of the 2024 NRL Season, live from Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas! The game will kick off at 1:30pm AEST (6:30pm Las Vegas Time) and will be the first of two matches with the Sydney Roosters and Brisbane Broncos to follow. 

Acknowledgement of Country

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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