Thursday evening saw the Roosters make a convincing triumph over Manly with a 26-16 victory, boosting their tentative run towards the finals. Roosters forward Nathan Brown’s bizarre behaviour courted controversy when he was given the marching orders within 30 seconds of joining the action.
The former NSW State of Origin star etched his name into NRL infamy with his audacious high shot against Sea Eagles player Ben Trbojevic. This unruly conduct invited an instant dismissal from referee Ashley Klein, thus adding further drama to the game.
After a 60-minute wait to enter the pitch under the watchful eyes of Roosters’ coach Trent Robinson, who was utilising the tenacious duo of starting props Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Lindsay Collins for a strenuous stretch, Brown marked his arrival with a disgraceful shot on Trbojevic.
However, his infamous contribution may well result in a period off the field, shifting the attention from the Roosters‘ commanding win at the SCG.
The eventful match also featured Manly prop Tof Sipley being sin-binned while former Roosters‘ favourite Matt Lodge limped off the field due to a debilitating knee injury barely eight minutes into his comeback game. Amid all these incidents, the Tricolours celebrated their 10-year premiership reunion on a victorious note.
This victorious performance places them two points outside of securing a top-eight finish and just a single point behind a 10th-placed Manly outfit whose own prospect of reaching the finals is gradually diminishing.
Speculations were rife in the eastern suburbs a few months prior about the return of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in a Roosters jersey before the close of the season. The only twist being, they weren’t wrong about his return, but it was in the bulky white jersey he sported ten years back, adorned with the unmistakable City Ford logo.
RTS’s appearance at the SCG on Thursday evening was highlighted by his infectious smile and impressive footwork, reminiscent of his rugby league glory days. He was flanked by some notable 2013 premiership team members: Minichiello, Guerra, Aubusson.
Despite the 30-year-old’s coming back to rugby league after a less than successful stint in rugby union, and only momentarily interrupting his transition back to the Warriors in 2024, it seemed he was home again, both literally and metaphorically, echoing “Return To Sender”, his former rugby league moniker.
The reunion of Tuivasa-Sheck with his former teammates seemed to stir something in the Roosters who showcased inspired performance convincing enough to keep their season alive.
Club veteran and record try-scorer, Daniel Tupou, scored a pair of tries before halftime, and Joseph Suaalii displayed his aptitude for rugby union by kicking goals from every corner of the pitch in the first half. Meanwhile, Tongan prop Waerea-Hargreaves and Collins were both made to play the entire first half straight.
However, Manly coach Anthony Seibold was evidently in dire need of a few able props himself; Matt Lodge was off the field within eight minutes due to a knee injury. Regardless of beginning the week a point outside the top eight, the Sea Eagles‘ prospects to hold that position by the close of the week remained uncertain, especially with the Panthers and Warriors waiting their turn in the next fortnight.
Undeniably, the intense match schedule has not been favourable to them. After their emotionally draining victory over the Dragons in Daly Cherry-Evans’ tri-centenary game, this marked their third game in 11 days. This fatigue was clearly observable in their performance in this match.
Daniel Tupou stole the show as the only NRL player who could leap higher than Jason Saab, securing the first try from a Luke Keary kick and later ending the first half’s scoring with a captivating Tuivasa-Sheck-like touchdown. In the meantime, Joseph Manu muscled his way to score from dummy half while Billy Smith followed suit after the break.
But the night will predominantly be imprinted in everyone’s memory for Brown’s outlandish half-minute that led to his expulsion.
As the Roosters sit behind Manly on the ladder now with a points differential mirroring Brown’s infamous tackle, it is quite possible for them to claim their final four games against the Dolphins, Eels, Tigers and Rabbitohs. However, they will have to accomplish this without Brown.
Sydney Roosters 26 (Daniel Tupou 2, Joseph Manu, Billy Smith, Joseph Suaalii tries; Suaalii 3 goals) quelled the Manly Sea Eagles 16 (Josh Schuster, Brad Parker, Tolu Koula tries; Reuben Garrick 2 goals) at the SCG. Referee: Ashley Klein. In total, 12,197 fans turned out for the game.