Manly keep pride in loss to Roosters

·3-min read

Manly's makeshift NRL side kept their pride but points proved their biggest issue as they were outgunned 20-10 by the Sydney Roosters.

After the most dramatic and controversial lead up to a game this season, Manly managed to stay in the game despite seven of their players boycotting their rainbow jersey.

For all the expectations of a Roosters flogging, Trent Robinson's men were outscored 4-2 in the second half against the depleted Sea Eagles.

Still they did what they needed to do by controlling the match and going clear into the top eight, with their biggest concern being a second concussion in 15 days for Lindsay Collins.

And they did it all against a Manly team playing on the emotion of the most draining weeks possible, in front of a crowd sporting rainbows.

The Sea Eagles gave the 12,187 fans at Brookvale every indication they were up for the match, pushing Joseph Suaalii over the sideline in the first set.

Their energy was immense, they hit hard and for no second could their zeal be questioned.

Late in the match newcomer Zac Fulton pulled off a tremendous one-on-one tackle on James Tedesco to force a line dropout under the grandstand named after his grandfather Bob.

Down 20-6 with 13 minutes to go, Manly even gave themselves a chance to get back into the game but skipper Daly Cherry-Evans was denied a try on a bobbled grounding.

Cherry-Evans put himself in everything, regularly popping up to break down defensive plays while also at one stage marking a ball on the wing.

Jake Trbojevic made 34 tackles and didn't miss one, as one of three Sea Eagles players returning straight out of COVID-19 isolation.

Rookie winger Alfred Smalley eventually bagged his first career NRL try in the final minutes, adding respect to the scoreboard.

"I haven't come off after a loss and been so quick to smile," captain Daly Cherry-Evans said.

"Because when you sit back and think about what's happened this week, all we ever asked was for people to give their effort.

"And against a really good side tonight, we did that.

"The main objective tonight was to do the club and fans proud, so I hope we did that."

But the inexperience was also clear, particularly in the first half as Roosters stars Tedesco, Joey Manu and Daniel Tupou dominated.

Fiji Silktails graduate and NRL debutant Pio Seci was caught out twice on the right wing in the first 10 minutes, with Tupou scoring once on him early.

With three outside backs among their boycotters, Manly's edge defence suffered.

Second-rower Nat Butcher scored one Roosters try when he ran onto a left-footed Tedesco grubber-kick, while another came when Manu crashed over.

"We were in control of the game, and it felt like we threatened to open it up at lots of stages," Robinson said.

"But we lost complete direction of ourselves ... We just didn't collectively do it play-after-play, set-after-set, to earn the right to break them open."

The result puts the Roosters two points clear of Manly in the fight for the final spot in the top eight, with a far superior for-and-against.

By the end of the round, it's possible the Sea Eagles could be as low as 11th on the ladder.

Ultimately, Manly's pride remained intact. But their best shot at boosting their hopes of a top-eight finish was lost.

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