The Manly Sea Eagles came from behind to beat the Roosters 36-18 with an impressive second half performance. The gutsy victory revives their season and puts to bed a horror fortnight which threatened to derail their promising campaign.
The Roosters had the better of the first half. They led 18-4 after 30 minutes and it looked like they would continue to expose Manly’s fragile defence and rack up another big score against the Sea Eagles. But the men in maroon clawed their way back into the game and finished strongly to come away with a comfortable victory in front of almost 15,000 fans at Lottoland.
Manly will look ahead to a stretch of three away games against teams outside of the top eight while the Roosters will need to recover quickly as they face the top of the table Storm next week.
1 A tale of two halves
Manly had the bulk of the possession in the opening 10 minutes. They forced three repeat sets on the Roosters line before they went around a resolute defence and crossed in the left corner through Matthew Wright.
The Tricolours turned the game with three tries in 12 minutes to lead 18-4 after 30 minutes. It looked as if the Roosters would run away with the game as they had Manly on the back foot with Luke Keary, Latrell Mitchell and Daniel Tupou looking particularly dangerous.
Manly fans would’ve been having flashbacks of the hefty score lines put on their side in the previous two weeks until Frank Winterstein burst through the line and set up Tom Trbojevic for a try with two minutes left in the first half.
2 Offloads key to Manly’s attack
Manly dominated possession in the opening 10 minutes but didn't look particularly threatening in attack despite scoring an early try. The key to turning the game in their favour was their ability to offload the ball and create second phase play. It was a Brenton Lawrence offload that gave them some momentum and led to Wright’s try in the following play.
Trbojevic scored in the 38th minute and they nearly touched down another late first half score after Lloyd Perrett's offload saw Daly Cherry-Evans break the line too.
In the second half, the likes of Marty Taupau, Shaun Lane and Brenton Lawrence continued to create that second phase play that has made the Sea Eagles so dangerous this season. The extra space created by Manly’s spine had the Roosters on the back foot and their skill and speed was too much for them to handle. Lawrence’s offload in the dying stages led to some brilliant play from Dylan Walker and Akuila Uate which finished with DCE crossing under the posts.
3 Roosters’ left edge deadly again
The Roosters’ left edge was slick once again and looked like it would be the catalyst for another impressive victory. Keary was dangerous all afternoon, earning a try and an assist, alongside combining well with Mitchell and Tupou.
They always love to attack down their left side but would have identified some weaknesses in Manly’s right edge. Even with Walker making good defensive decisions, the Roosters could expose Uate on multiple occasions, particularly for Tupou’s try.
Despite having less possession and losing Tupou to injury, they still caused Manly problems down that side of the field in the second half with Joseph Manu switching over from the right to form a new partnership with Mitchell. It wasn’t enough to win them the game but we can expect more impressive play down the Roosters’ left edge to close out the season.
4 Tom’s turbo charged rise to the top
Trbojevic just keeps on improving and will be key for Manly if they are going to go deep in to the finals. The youngster was immense throughout the game, scoring two tries and setting up another in a man of the match display. He made over 200 metres and led his side to victory despite receiving a heavy knee to the ribs.
The younger of the Trbojevic brothers is flashy in attack and has formed a slick combination with Apisai Koroisau, Blake Green and DCE. But he also rolls his sleeves up when Manly needs him most, coming up with 25 runs and making some crucial metres out of his own end.
With the World Cup coming up at the end of the season, you’ve got to think where he will fit into the Australia side. He was earmarked for a NSW wing spot before injury erased that opportunity but Mal Meninga will surely be considering him for a spot in the Kangaroos’ backline.
5 Ill discipline costs the Roosters
Manly were much better from the 30th minute onwards but the Roosters kept gifting possession to the opposition in their own half. They were generous with their errors, coming up with nine in the second half compared to just three in the first. Connor Watson dropped the ball coming out of his half and Victor Radley’s forward pass led to Lewis Brown’s try from the ensuing set.
The match was still just about winnable with 10 minutes to play but they wasted a chance to get something out of the game by throwing a forward pass, allowing Manly to see the game out comfortably. If they want to match it with the Storm next week, they must eliminate cheap errors because the ladder leaders will be even more clinical.
6 Manly’s unheralded crew continue to impress
Much has been made of the likes of Uate and Curtis Sironen being unwanted by their previous clubs yet flourishing with the Sea Eagles. But it was another one of their unheralded players who lifted today. Frank Winterstein was superb on the left edge with his strong carriers and solid defence. He came up with 22 tackles and 11 hit ups for 120 metres while his line break and try assist for Tom Trbojevic was a turning point in the game.
He would have grabbed a try himself if not for an obstruction late in the game and it would have been a well deserved four-pointer. Much of Manly’s success this season has come from their underrated players stepping up and Winterstein has been one of their most consistent.
This was his best performance of the year. Trent Barrett and John Cartwright can take a lot of credit for plucking a player from the Rugby Sevens and restoring him to an extremely reliable back-rower.
He has typified the work of this Manly side, who weren’t rated highly by many in pre-season, but now sit joint sixth with the Cowboys going in to the final four rounds of the regular season.
What were your highlights from Manly's come-from-behind win against the Roosters? Let us know in the comments below.
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