On Friday night in Gosford, the Sea Eagles secured a 28-16 victory over the Roosters, with Reuben Garrick scoring a hat-trick to lead his team to victory. Under the guidance of new coach Anthony Seibold, Manly has won both of their first two games, and are now in a strong position to win the Pre-Season Challenge title, having earned 14 points in their latest match.
Manly currently sits at the top of the ladder with 29 points, along with the Sharks, Warriors, Bulldogs and St Helens who are all on 14 points ahead of their upcoming Round 2 matches over the weekend. However, the Bulldogs and Sharks will be facing each other on Sunday.
Manly got off to a strong start, with Kelma Tuilagi scoring their first try just four minutes into the game, thanks to a cross-field kick from Brad Parker. Garrick was then denied a try due to the efforts of Roosters winger Corey Allan’s scramble defence, but was able to score his first try in the 15th minute with the help of Josh Schuster and Tuilagi.
The Roosters lost Joseph Suaalii to a head knock in the 18th minute, and Manly took advantage of the situation, stretching their lead to 16-0 when Tolu Koula scored their third try. The Roosters looked to have scored their first try in the 35th minute, but Drew Hutchison was penalized for a double movement.
Garrick scored his second try just before half-time, with Schuster and Weekes involved in the build-up, giving Manly a 20-0 lead at the break. In the second half, the Sea Eagles secured their bonus point with their fifth try, as Gordon Chan Kum Tong and Weekes set up Garrick for his hat-trick.
The Roosters finally got on the scoreboard in the 65th minute, with Nat Butcher scoring their first try. Brandon Smith and Lindsay Collins then combined for another Roosters try, before Tuipulotu Katoa scored to make it 26-16. However, a penalty goal from Garrick sealed the victory for Manly, who will now turn their attention to Round 1 where they will face the Bulldogs.