Photo courtesy of Manly Sea Eagles
All the best action from the opening round of the NSWRL’s Junior Representative competitions.
Sea Eagles suffer first Harold Matthews Cup loss in two years
Canberra Raiders have handed the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles their first Harold Matthews Cup loss in two years after powering their way to a 32-6 win at Belconnen Oval.
The premiers went through the 2021 season undefeated and had not tasted defeat in a Harold Matthews Cup game since March 2020 but were guilty of making too many errors against the Green Machine.
It took just 80 seconds for the Raiders to open their account with second-rower Noah Martin crashing over from a short ball close to the line.
From there the Green Machine ran in tries to Elvis Nauer-Wood, Mathias Tomuli-Ah-Koui to find themselves 16-0 up after 20 minutes.
The Sea Eagles managed to stop the flow of points after they scored their first try of the match through five-eighth Tuaomaliemavaitoelau Patea who crashed over from dummy half.
Despite being in striking distance at half-time, this would be Manly’s only highlight with the Raiders running in three more tries to Martin and Tomuli-Ah-Koui - who finished with a hat-trick - and to open their 2022 campaign in style.
Rabbitohs fall just short in maiden Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup appearance
It was a proud day for the South Sydney Rabbitohs community with the foundation club entering the Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup for the first time but they couldn’t conjure a fairytale start after suffering a 22-14 loss against the Cantebury-Bankstown Bulldogs at Belmore Sports Ground.
The game got off to a great start for Souths after second-rower Yilara Widders, daughter of former Rabbitoh Dean, scored an incredible individual try. After gathering the ball 20 metres out, Widders shrugged off a would-be tackler before throwing a dummy and carrying three defenders over the line to send the Rabbitohs faithful into a frenzy.
The Bulldogs hit back five minutes later through a long-range effort from Piper Spackman, who raced 65 metres down field to open their account for 2022.
Just moments after the second half kicked off, some crisp passing saw Bulldogs captain Leela Ma-Chong break the deadlock and give her side an 8-4 lead. The two teams went try-for-try until the Bulldogs scored two in quick succession through Monique Najjar and Nanise Vakacavu to find themselves with some breathing space at 22-10.
Souths mounted a late comeback through Anthony Mundine’s cousin Shyla, who crashed over from short range although it was too little, too late as they went down 22-14.
Fittler family’s double celebration
Sydney Roosters and Parramatta Eels fought tooth and nail for in their Harold Matthews Cup lash at Mascot Oval before the Tricolours prevailed with a 22-14 win.
There was plenty of interest in the game with Zach Fittler, son of Roosters legend and Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler, making his debut on his famous father’s 50th birthday.
The Roosters found themselves in attacking field position early in the match and hooker Jaxson Allen, who was one of the best on ground, burrowed over from dummy-half for a 6-0 lead.
Tries to Michael Gabrael and Luke Maron from the Eels sent the blue and gold into the sheds 10-6 up at half-time although the Roosters would hit back just minutes into the second half through Lachlan Dooner.
The slippery conditions saw errors from both sides as they struggled to gain ascendancy. Allen proved crafty around the ruck yet again as he showed great pace and stepped past several defenders to crash over in the 48th minute. Dooner converted to put the Roosters up 22-10.
With the Roosters leading with under five minutes to go, a tricolours win looked likely before the Eels hit back through winger Richard Penisini. Unfortunately the sideline conversion was waved away and the Rooster held on for the win.
In his first game for his dad’s former club, Zach Fittler proved a handful for the Eels defence with some strong carries, a nice offload, great leg drive and solid defence.