The Manly Sea Eagles defeated the Rabbitohs 30-28 in the opening round of the NRL Pre-Season Challenge in Gosford, thanks to standout performances by Jake Toby and Raymond Tuaimolo Vaega. The win was a great start for new coach Anthony Seibold.
The Rabbitohs got on the board early with a try from Tom Carr, scored in the fifth minute after Dion Teaupa grubbered the ball to the left corner. The successful sideline conversion by Blake Taaffe put Souths ahead 6-0.
But Manly quickly answered back with a try by Tuaimolo Vaega, set up by Cooper Johns with a precise floating pass. Teaupa retaliated with a try of his own in the back-and-forth battle between the two playmakers.
Teaupa added another try in the 21st minute, with a well-executed play from Blake Taaffe. In the 31st minute, Tuaimolo Vaega scored his second try of the game, with the help of slick handling from Toby and Fletcher Myers on the left edge.
Toby also added his own try, demonstrating strength to carry three defenders across the line. And when Johns grubbered for Zac Fulton to score, Manly had three tries in five minutes and took the lead 20-18 at halftime.
The Rabbitohs regained the lead in the second half with a try by Taaffe, but Manly held strong and regained the lead with a try by Toby. With the scores tied at 24-24 and only 12 minutes left, the Rabbitohs’ Leon Te Hau was sent to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle, and Manly took advantage with a try by Cameron Brown, followed by a successful sideline conversion from Johns.
The Rabbitohs managed to score a bonus point with a try by Jarrett Subloo, bringing the score to 30-28, but a couple of late mistakes prevented a comeback win.
New coach Seibold had many positive takeaways from the game, including the impressive playmaking by Johns, and the standout performances of Myers and Tuipulotu on the wings.