Billed as one of the games of Rd 1, traditional rivals the Parramatta Eels and the Manly Sea Eagles went head-to-head, and the result was perhaps one that not everyone was expecting.
It was the Eels who burst out of the blocks and raced away to a 12-0 lead with some good early play, before Manly clawed back the deficit and made the score 24-12.
After that, particularly in the second half, the game belonged to the Eels as they put on a masterclass and blew the Sea Eagles off the park with 26 straight points.
It was a clinical display from the Eels who are looking to cope without superstar Jarryd Hayne. In his absence, it was enigmatic halfback Chris Sandow that stood up, as well as new recruits Brad Takairangi and Reece Robinson.
Poor discipline was also the order of the day early on, with both sides guilty of dropping the ball far too easily at times. Though the game had big hits, though, many of which came from Darcy Lussick, who was a on a mission against his former side.
One aspect of the game that disappointed coach Brad Arthur despite their win was ball control.
“I’m pleased with our application to our defence and our intent with our defence,” said Arthur.
“We were nice and resilient on our try line but I’m very disappointed in our lack of respect for the
football and ball control. It wasn’t good enough and something we need to fix up straight away.”
Manly may also have some issues next week with Clinton Gutherson (ACL) & Kieran Foran (hamstring) both leaving the field with injuries, and James Hasson put on report for a knee lift.
For the second straight year, Semi Radradra scored a hat-trick in Rd 1 at Pirtek Stadium, in what was another strong showing from the flying Fijian.
As for Manly’s coach Geoff Toovey, he knows it was the little mistakes that ultimately cost his side.
“It’s a hard way to start the year. We’ve had a fantastic off season I thought,” said Toovey.
“At half time I thought we were the better side, we controlled the ball a lot better than they did, a couple of very basic mistakes and a couple of decisions that went against us at the back of the match.”
The battle of the forwards became evident as the game wore on, with the physical nature and brutality of the Eels pack dominating Manly’s. Manly back-rower Tom Symonds admits his side lost the forward battle.
“I think we went with them in the forwards for a good part of the game and then in the second half we lost the battle a bit,” Symonds said.
“That gave them an opportunity and their backs sort of ran amok. Chrissy Sandow was on fire and some of those things can come off when the forwards aren’t winning that battle in the middle.”
Player of the Game:
3. Chris Sandow
2. Brad Takairangi
1. Semi Radradra
Parramatta Eels 42 (Radradra 3, Sandow 2, Hopoate, Takairangi tries; Robinson 6 goals) def Manly Sea Eagles 12 (Stewart, Blair tries; Lyon 2 goals) at Pirtek Stadium. Crowd: 18,718. On report: Junior Paulo, James Hasson. Half time score: Parramatta 16-12.