Daly Cherry-Evans’ 21st field goal of his career couldn’t have come at a better time than to hand Manly their first win of the 2020 season over the Roosters on Saturday night at Leichhardt Oval.
After Luke Keary’s field goal attempt had hit the left upright two minutes earlier, the Sea Eagles captain calmly slotted it from 25 metres out for a 9-8 win.
Possession had come Manly’s way via a jolting tackle from utility Lachlan Croker on Rooster fullback James Tedesco that caused the Dally M winner to spill the ball.
It was one of 13 errors made by the Roosters. The 14th came when Joey Manu’s one-armed flick pass went over the touchline, well out of reach of his winger Matt Ikuvalu, with less than a minute left on the scoreboard.
Defence was solid from both sides but the Roosters’ attack looked uncharacteristically disjointed and it can’t be solely blame on the retirement of former Test halfback Cooper Cronk.
Too often passes missed their mark or went to ground as a movement was in full swing.
Match: Roosters v Sea Eagles
Round 2 -
Venue: Leichhardt Oval, Sydney
For Manly, they did it the hard way, losing forward Sean Keppie in the first half and then centre Brad Parker in the second half to HIAs.
The fact their fullback Tom Trboejvic made two try-saving moves of his own helped boost morale among teammates when they were down on personnel.
Both sides opened their score cards early with penalty goals.
Cherry-Evans edges Manly in front with field goal
Then a Cherry-Evans inside pass to Tom Trbojevic in the 12th minute gave ‘Turbo’ his fist four-pointer for 2020.
The momentum shifted toward the Roosters on the back of a 60% possession rate. And if Trent Robinson’s men had a little more luck they would have had led at the break.
Two tries – to Manu and then Mitch Aubusson – were disallowed by the bunker for an illegal ball strip and a knock-on respectively.
But then a superb three-man cut out pass by Keary found an unmarked Daniel Tupou on the fly down the western sideline to score the Roosters' first try.
In the second half, things rolled on much the same way.
A break by Brett Morris ended up with Keary gratefully accepting the inside pass to cross Manly’s line. But he casually went to place the ball down with one hand, unaware Trbojevic was galloping behind him and managed to knock the ball free.
Tom Trbojevic freakishly foils Keary try attempt
Seven minutes later and Trbojevic pulled down Morris a metre from the corner post for another try-saver.
The scores remained tied until again Rueben Garrick and Kyle Flanagan traded penalties for an 8-8 deadlock with 13 minutes left to play.
That set the match up for a field goal finish, which Cherry-Evans duly provided.
Leichhardt Oval held complete opposite success stories for each club.
While Manly had lost seven of their past eight games there before tonight, the Roosters had won eight of their past nine at the famous inner west venue.
But that success rate abandoned the Roosters on Saturday night.
However, Tupou seems to particularly like playing Manly, having now scored eight tries in his past seven games against them.
The Roosters now take a 0-2 start into round three where they face their arch enemies, the South Sydney Rabbitohs, at ANZ Stadium next Friday.