By Andrew Stark at Morry Breen Oval
Wyong skipper Mitch Williams served up the final pass to all four of his side’s opening half tries as the Roos kicked off their 2015 NSW Cup campaign in fine style, overpowering the Manly Sea Eagles 34-8 in the twilight at Morry Breen Oval, Kanwal.
An up-tempo first quarter from the men in green and gold pushed the Eagles back onto their heels, a position from which Luke Williamson’s team were never able to recover.
The game was but six minutes old when Roos back-rower Jack Seijka opened the scoring having charged one pass off the ruck, before spearing over for a simple try on the right edge. A remarkably similar scenario befell the Manly middle in the 14th minute when Williams linked with workaholic prop Magnus Stromquist and the former Manly player crashed over for the second try of the evening. Tyler Cornish converted and Wyong held a handy 10-point advantage.
The visitors were in all sorts of bother four minutes later when Leivaha Pulu followed the barnstorming trend and latching onto a sweetly timed flat ball from his skipper, he charged powerfully at the Manly line. The Maroon wall again cracked and the ball was forced upon the same, crumpled blade of in goal grass that had so attracted Stromquist just moments earlier.
Manly pulled one back when Ben Fritz was able to outleap the diminutive Keiren ‘Turtle’ Gallagher to pluck an angled Manaia Rudolph kick from the Kanwal sky; however a further Wyong try three minutes before the break maintained a healthy Roos score. Erina junior Matt Ikuvalu strolled over in the Leagues Club corner having accepted a long cut out ball from Mitch Williams who had started the movement with a raking kick down field. Manly fullback David Williams, fearing a 40/20, desperately hooked the ball back infield as it threatened to dribble over the sideline only to find an appreciative Roos chaser. Wyong were able to scoop up the discarded Steeden and blaze a fourth trail to the Manly line. The Roos taking a commanding 22-6 lead into the break.
The opening 10 minutes of the second period unfurled a game of completions and was played out in between the opposing 20-metre lines, before a series of Manly fumbles invited the Roos to visit their end. Wyong took full advantage when Yileen ‘Buddy’ Gordon showed tremendous strength to drag a trio of Eagles a number of metres in the 54th minute; a feat he would gleefully replicate 10 minutes later. The burly centres second effort included a huge wind up, some handy footwork and a forceful post try fist pump which had the Wyong hill roaring its approval. ‘Buddy’ Gordon’s tries were countered by a Brayden Wiliame four-pointer on the hour for the Eagles when the right centre ran onto a crisp Jack Littlejohn pass to streak away.
A little communal push and shove overtook proceedings in the 62nd minute resulting in the two number 14s, Jack Seijka and Tyson Andrews, being asked to visit the sin bin. And then, with just 90 seconds on the clock, big Uiti Baker hit Mitch Williams late and was placed on report. Tyler Cornish slotted the resultant penalty between the northern sticks to conclude the evenings scoring at 34-8 in favour of the locals.
As has so often been the case over recent seasons, Williams was the standout for the Roos; the pocket-sized hooker masterfully orchestrating the win on the back of a marked physical dominance achieved by his hungry Wyong pack. In a contrasting tale of two Williams, Manly captain and former Test winger ‘Wolfman’ had an unhappy evening at fullback despite the appearance late in the game of a fullish moon.
Wyong 34 (Yileen Gordon 2, Jack Seijka, Magnus Stromquist, Leivaha Pulu, Matt Ikuvalu tries; Tyler Cornish 5 goals) d. Manly 8 (Ben Fritz, Brayden Wiliame tries)