In a thrilling match at 4 Pines Park on Sunday, Manly secured a hard-fought 18-16 victory over the Roosters, with late heroics from Ben Trbojevic and a double from Daly Cherry-Evans. Trbojevic, making a highly anticipated return to the team since Round 12, showed his prowess in the 71st minute when he powered onto a short ball from Josh Schuster, delighting the raucous home crowd.
The Roosters started the game strongly and seemed to have opened the scoring in the eighth minute when Corey Allan crashed over following a Luke Keary bomb. However, Daniel Tupou was ruled to have knocked on as he went up for the ball. Despite this setback, the Roosters fought valiantly, withstanding a superb long kick from Cherry-Evans that trapped James Tedesco in goal, and managing to keep their defensive line intact.
The Roosters were finally rewarded for their resilience in the 23rd minute when Junior Pauga scored the game’s first try, thanks to a sublime flick pass from Joey Manu. However, Manly quickly responded four minutes later, as Reuben Garrick chipped the ball over the Roosters‘ defense, allowing Cherry-Evans to regather and score, following excellent lead-up work by Brad Parker.
In the 33rd minute, the Roosters struck again, with Nat Butcher providing a slick flick pass to put Tedesco over the line. However, Cherry-Evans had the final say in the first half, intercepting a pass and running 35 meters to score, putting Manly in the lead at 12-10.
After the break, the Roosters quickly regained the lead in the 46th minute, with youngster Sandon Smith delivering a long ball to Manu, who displayed his power to score out wide. Smith successfully converted, giving the Roosters a 16-12 advantage. However, on the back of a penalty against Butcher for holding on too long in the play, the Sea Eagles capitalised and marched down the field. Trbojevic then crossed the line to level the scores, and Garrick converted to secure an 18-16 lead for Manly.
In the end, it was a hard-fought battle between two determined teams, but the Sea Eagles emerged triumphant with their late surge. Manly’s victory showcased the resilience of their players, including Trbojevic and Cherry-Evans, who made significant contributions to the win. The Roosters put up a valiant fight, but were unable to hold on to their lead. Both teams showcased their grit and determination, providing an entertaining match for the fans at 4 Pines Park.