The Sydney Roosters have continued their winning ways at the Sydney Cricket Ground in an emphatic 46-4 victory over rivals the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles to kick-start their 2021 campaign.
On a picturesque afternoon at the iconic SCG, the Tricolours channelled the performances of the 1974 and 1975 Premiership-winning sides, putting on a landslide performance in front of the 15,000 strong crowd with both James Tedesco and Brett Morris scoring hat-tricks.
Newly appointed halfback Luke Keary proved his credentials in the no.7 jersey with three try assists and two linebreak assists, terrorising the Manly outside backs with a number of dangerous kicks.
Making their intentions clear from the get-go, the Tricolours would make a half break through Josh Morris in the first set of the match, finishing well inside Manly territory by fifth tackle.
From the back of that early momentum, some aerial brilliance from fullback Tedesco saw the three-time Jack Gibson medallist soar above and take a Keary bomb to score the side's first try of the 2021 season just three minutes in.
Although Sio Siua Taukeiaho's conversion attempt was unsuccessful, the Tricolours took a 4-nil lead after as many minutes.
Round 1 Match Highlights: Roosters v Sea Eagles
A mistimed kick out on the full would give Manly field position soon after though, and coupled with a forced drop-out, the Sea Eagles would hit back with a try of their own on the edge through Reuben Garrick. The winger's conversion would be waved away, with the scores level at 4-all after 11 minutes.
But the Roosters would continue to ask questions of Manly's right-side defence, with Josh Morris and winger Daniel Tupou continuing to make inroads through some strong charges.
With Easts back with the momentum and now in the attacking red-zone, another piece of brilliance from Keary - this time a well-timed pass to Sitili Tupouniua - saw the young backrower go over for a trademark SCG try.
Taukeiaho would nail his next conversion, with the Roosters going up 10-4 after a quarter of the match played.
A play the ball penalty found the Roosters once again in Manly's red-zone, and the Tricolours' expansive play was rewarded as Tedesco burst through for his double, muscling his way to the line to put his side further ahead. With just over ten minutes to go before half-time, Taukeiaho's conversion gave his side a 12-point lead.
Easts would continue to make charges downfield with some damaging runs, but fatigue would kick in as both sides blew out the cobwebs from a long pre-season as they traded errors.
Halftime was far from the first thought on the side's mind though, with forward Jared Waerea-Hargreaves making an immediate impact from the bench with some powerful running, as a seven-tackle set for the Roosters saw Brett Morris score a dazzling try thanks to some Tedesco and Joseph Manu magic on the right.
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Morris' 166th NRL try saw the 33-year-old go outright 4th on the NRL's try-scoring leaderboard, and while the conversion was unsuccessful, the Roosters earned a commanding 20-4 lead.
Looking to fire up his side with Manly attacking their line, an unfortunate head-high tackle from Luke Keary saw the referee award a penalty to Manly, but his teammates would be sure to follow his lead with a strong shot from Daniel Suluka-Fifita and Adam Keighran dislodging the ball.
The boys from Bondi wouldn't go die wondering in the shadows of half-time, with some brilliant set pieces entertaining the Roosters Members and supporters - with Morris scoring his double soon after, pirouetting out of a tackle to touch down in the corner.
With utility Adam Keighran - on his Roosters' debut - nailing the conversion, the sides headed to the sheds with the Red, White and Blue holding a commanding 26-4 lead.
It was a dream start to the second half, with Tupou allowing a grubber kick to bounce dead in-goal which earned a seven-tackle set, and while a Keary cross-field bomb was diffused by Manly, the Tricolours made sure to throw out a warning shot early on.
Some ill-discipline in the play-the-ball from Waerea-Hargreaves saw the front-rower on report, handing over possession to Manly, with a long-range pick up from Keary seeing the halfback sprint downfield only for the cover defence to force an error and swing momentum back their way.
Just as the Sea Eagles looked to trouble the Roosters defence, Tupou would stamp his mark for the second time in the half, shutting down fullback Dylan Walker with a crunching tackle that jolted the ball loose.
After a quiet quarter to start the second half, Tedesco would remind the SCG crowd why he is one of the most decorated players in the competition, as a Luke Keary-orchestrated move on the right saw the fullback score his third career hat-trick.
Despite his own conversion being unsuccessful, the Roosters continued their dominant 30-4 lead with just over a quarter of the match to be played.
Tupouniua looked to add to his try-scoring ways just two minutes later, taking a dropped Manly ball and bee-lining to the line for his second of the night, however, a decision from the bunker saw the backrower's four-pointer overturned after identifying a knock-on in the process.
Manly looked to hit back with a runaway try from ricocheted grubber, but it was Tedesco once again starring for his side as he proved his defensive credentials, cutting down the play with a swift legs tackle.
Morris would equal Tedesco's effort though, taking an intercept and streaking away 80 metres to touch down for his third of the night, winding back the clock as the crowd celebrated the veteran's long-range four-pointer.
Yet another aerial assault from the boot saw Manly cough up the pill close to the line, and it would be Angus Crichton reaping the rewards as Taukeiaho showed sleight of hand to put his fellow forward over with a deft pass.
Not to be outdone by his brother, Josh Morris would burst through the Manly defence just minutes later to score his 150th career try with a 40-metre effort to put the icing on the cake.
Sydney Roosters 46 (James Tedesco 3, Brett Morris 3, Sitili Tupouniua, Angus Crichton, Josh Morris tries; Sio Siua Taukeiaho 4, Adam Keighran goals) def Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 4 (Reuben Garrick tries; goals)
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