At the conclusion of a challenging 2022 season, the Sea Eagles exorcised the demons of their seven-game losing run in Anthony Seibold’s debut game in charge with some scorching attacking play.
In the eleventh minute, Bulldogs five-eighth Matt Burton’s kick out on the full offered Manly a chance to score, but Reed Mahoney did an outstanding job of cleaning up a Cherry-Evans grubber and calming the situation down.
A line dropout was forced by Cherry-Evans after Burton strangely passed to Viliame Kikau on the last tackle two minutes later. The back-rower then kicked the ball out on full to give the home team another opportunity.
When Cherry-Evans grubbered forward and Tom Trbojevic followed through to toe ahead and score in his first game back, 4 Pines Park roared as the pressure finally became too much for Canterbury.
As Mahoney sent in a grubber close to the line and caught the rebound off the uprights to score his first try as a Bulldog, the Bulldogs struck back in the 21st minute. Burton’s extra point tied the game at 6-6.
With five minutes left in the first half, Bulldogs halfback Kyle Flanagan was sin-binned for a professional foul. This decision proved crucial as Manly scored a minute later through Reuben Garrick.
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On the cusp of halftime, Manly appeared to have increased their lead as Josh Addo-Carr lost the ball, which Jake Trbojevic recovered and passed to Garrick, who then kicked through. Max King, a Bulldogs prop, rushed back to ground the ball in a huge play after Bulldogs chaser Cooper Johns appeared to have touched down first, according to replays.
With a try from Cherry-Evans, the home team extended their lead to 18-6 in just three minutes following the half. As the Sea Eagles’ skipper dashed away in the 61st minute to finish his double after a strong burst by Taniela Paseka, the score was 24-6.
As the game was already won, Tom Trbojevic was given an early mark in the 64th minute, and the talented Kaeo Weekes took over at fullback. But, three minutes later, a head injury to Lachlan Croker caused “Turbo” to be reinstated into the game.
The Anthony Seibold era was formally inaugurated in front of a packed audience at 4 Pines Park by Cherry-Evans, who finished off a superb performance with a field goal and an intercept try to put Manly down by 25 points.
With a bye week the following week, Manly will face off against old rivals Parramatta in round three with plenty of momentum gained from their first victory in a season opener since 2013.
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