By Michael Mapstone
Mounties kicked off their season in fine style with a comprehensive 50-10 away victory over the Manly Sea Eagles on Saturday.
The match was only 90 seconds old when Mounties, after pushing up field through an early penalty, spread the ball to fullback Jeremy Bond, who attacked the line and spun out of a tackle to score out wide. Kurt Horton converted for a 6-0 lead.
It looked as though Manly may have still been in beach mode in keeping with the summery conditions, as the visitors went in again just three minutes later, spreading the ball before Jeremy Hawkins dived over in the right hand corner. Horton missed the sideline conversion, but his side was up 10-0.
Although Manly’s defence looked ragged, their first possession which also included a penalty to help them up field led to a try, as Ligi Sao crashed over adjacent to the posts. Jack Littlejohn converted to narrow the margin to four.
Seven minutes later Manly were on the attack again when Hawkins snatched an intercept and ran 80 metres, only to be pulled down 10 short of the line by a valiant Mark O’Dare chase. It proved to be in vain though as Jake Foster ran in an easy try from the following play.
Shane Shackleton crashed over for Mounties three minutes later and with both tries converted the score was 22-6 in favour of the visitors.
Six minutes before the break Mounties were spreading the ball right from close range when Horton busted two tackles and turned the ball back inside for Bond, who gave Matt Place a clear run to the tryline. Horton converted from beside the posts and the lead was 28-6.
Just seconds before the siren Clint Gutherson put a neat chip into the corner for Domenic Reardon to give the Sea Eagles a faint sniff. Littlejohn missed the sideline conversion attempt, leaving the half time score at 28-10.
Just four minutes after the break Jeremy Hawkins cut through the Manly defence following a scrum win and ran untouched for 50 metres, scoring 20 metres in from the left touchline to make it 32-10.
Ten minutes later Bill Tupou barged over out wide to extend the lead to 26.
With less than 13 minutes to play the opposing number tens, Shackleton and Tyson Andrews, were involved in an altercation that saw both sent for a 10-minute cool-down.
During their absence Kyle O’Donnell crashed over adjacent to the post for Mounties with six minutes remaining. Horton converted to push the scoreline to 42-10.
With just three minutes remaining Bond grubbered for Sami Sauliuma to cross, but the visitors weren’t done. As the hooter sounded Mounties through the ball about in willy-nilly fashion, before a desperation grubber that was dived on by Horton over the line to chalk up the half-century for his team.
Mitch Cornish missed his only conversion attempt of the day from the sideline, but that was of little bother as the Mounties celebrated a resounding victory.
Mounties head up to Newcastle to face the Knights on Sunday afternoon while Manly head across to Belmore on Saturday to face the Bulldogs.
Mounties 50 (J Hawkins 2, J Bond, B Tupou, S Sauliuma, M Place, K O’Donnell, S Shackleton, J Foster, K Horton tries; K Horton 5 goals) def. Manly Sea Eagles 10 (D Reardon, L Sao tries; J Littlejohn goal) at Brookvale Oval.