Many wondered just how they would perform under new coach Anthony Seibold and we got a taste as the Manly Sea Eagles cruised to a big 31-6 win over the Canterbury Bulldogs
Defending stoutly when they had to, it was captain Daly Cherry-Evans who led the way, helped by the likes of Reuben Garrick and Ethan Bullemor.
The win gets the Manly campaign off to a good start as they break a seven-game losing streak stemming from last year.
Some basic errors from the Bulldogs that saw Matt Burton and Viliame Kikau both kick the ball out on the full eventually led to first points.
It was Cherry-Evans who grubbered ahead for Tom Trbojevic, in his first game back, and the fullback did the rest to score.
The Dogs had the spirit early and hit back when Reed Mahoney grubbered and regained the ball off the upright to score.
From there, the Dogs attack looked slow and insipid, which would not please their fans.
A professional foul from Kyle Flanagan then made matters worse for the Bulldogs as they went down a man and conceded a second try.
In the end, Manly made the most of the extra man as the shift left saw Garrick in acres of space to score.
He would convert and Manly led 12-6 at the break.
Cherry-Evans would then get on the scoresheet after a tough pass for Alamoti was dropped and the Manly halfback showed his soccer skills, kicking ahead several times to score before grounding the ball.
The halfback had his second not long after when Taniela Paseka busted through the middle with ease and found Trbojevic who found Cherry-Evans inside as he raced the final 30m to score.
In no danger of losing but at the same time, just to be safe, Cherry-Evans slotted a field goal to put the game beyond doubt.
The final try of the game would come when Burton, who was poor all night, threw a pass and it was again, Cherry-Evans who intercepted and scored for his first career hat-trick.
Manly coach Seibold praised his side’s leaders for stepping up when it mattered and the defensive efforts of the team.
“The leaders have done a really good job through the pre-season,” Seibold said.
“I thought we had really good intent with what we did there defensively.”
Cameron Ciraldo lamented his side’s ability to make opportunities but was also pleased with some of the resolve they showed.
“We definitely made it hard for ourselves and our completions weren’t where we needed them to be but I thought we showed a hell of a lot of grit there at different times to defend our tryline and to stay in the contest physically but there’s a lot of lessons learned,” Ciraldo said.
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Daly Cherry-Evans (MAN)
2. Reuben Garrick (MAN)
1. Ethan Bullemor (MAN)