Manu stars in return as the Roosters escape with victory; unrecognizable Manly ‘brave’: 3 Big Hits

The Roosters escaped with a 20-10 win over a seriously depleted Manly side at 4 Pines Park.

There were fears the Roosters would put a cricket score on Manly, given seven key players had pulled out over personal views on the club’s rainbow-detailed ‘All in the League’ shirt.

Daniel Tupou crossed untouched in the eighth minute, before a James Tedesco clearance set up Nat Butcher in the 20th minute for the Roosters’ second try of the night.

Manly got on the board through Andrew Davey but the Roosters hit back two minutes later with star center Joey Manu digging over.

Debutant Alfred Smalley crossed in the corner for Manly but it was too little, too late for a team Fox League’s Greg Alexander dubbed “brave” to fight back after the week that was.

While the Roosters took the two points, there are a couple of concerns for coach Trent Robinson: Lindsay Collins’ concussion and the team’s 60 per cent completion rate.

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When seven key Manly players decided to sit out the game, coach Des Hasler had to scramble to fill the holes.

He called on fringe players like Kurt De Luis and Ethan Bullemor, while also handing veteran prop James Segeyaro his first NRL game since 2019.

But he was also forced to roll the dice with a couple of unknown players and a grandson of a legend, who, in all fairness, was unlikely to see any top-flight football until at least next season.

Alfred Smalley and Pio Seci lined up on both flanks for Manly, while Zac Fulton came off the bench and all three did their jobs admirably.

Seci and in particular Smalley went after the ball, and the latter got a well-deserved try in the 77th minute.

Meanwhile, Fulton made a big tackle on James Tedesco to keep him in goal … and received a forearm from a Roosters star in a clear “welcome to the NRL moment”.

Greg Alexander acknowledged it was a “brave” effort from an almost unrecognizable Sea Eagles side.

“Without the players that are out and on the injured list, which are a couple of really big ones, they’ve almost had to play a completely different brand of football,” he said.

“Players out of position, players on debut it was a tough night but the Sea Eagles were brave.”

Nathan Hindmarsh thought Manly “performed well considering (the circumstances)”, while Matty Johns credited the substitutes for doing their job.

“I thought the young guys that came in were proud, they really went for it. They just lacked a bit of class,” he said.

Smalley came into the game with 32 NSW Cup games under his belt, while Seci had played just four reserve games this season. Last year he took part in the Kaiviti Silktails at the lower level, the Ron Massey Cup.

Fulton has bounced between Jersey Flegg and NSW Cup this season.


There were curious eyes watching Joey Manu in his return game from a quad injury. Manu starred at five-eighth in Round 18 with skipper James Tedesco even acknowledging the Roosters need to find a way to get him more of the ball.

Manu returned to the centers on Thursday night as Luke Keary returned to action and made it clear he had license to roam and go for the ball.

“He may be back in the centres, but he’s already got his hands on the ball a number of times before he’s left the ruck, so he’s not going to be out there waiting for things to come to him,” Fox League’s Greg Alexander said. opening 10 minutes.

And Alexander was right. Manu made 21 runs, the most of any player on the field, and finished with 194 yards, 10 tackles, three offloads and a line break.

There were fears that Manu’s return to the centers would see him less involved in the action. But he took more runs than the 18 and 16 in the five-eighth round (18 and 17, respectively).

“Joey Manu moved to the centers but he played a lot of football in the middle, that’s where he is most dangerous. I thought he was the best player on the field,” Matty Johns said on The Late Show with Matty Johns.


Just as the Roosters moved past Luke Keary’s concussion concerns, the club received another scare with star Lindsay Collins suffering a nasty blow to the head.

Collins was in his first game back from concussion in Origin III when he struck again.

During the first half, Collins attempted a tackle on Manly’s Morgan Boyle when he collided with his shoulder and fell to the ground.

Roosters duo Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Victor Radley immediately showed concern for their teammate as he was attended to by trainers.

Collins was carted off the field and was undoubtedly ruled out for the rest of the game.

“Very hard to watch this one,” Fox League’s Michael Ennis said at halftime.

“We know he’s just come back from concussion and he came in here with Morgan Boyle and it was almost a triple whammy. He took his partner’s (Waerea-Hargreaves) shoulder, head and then his forearm in the come down

“It was really hard to watch, it’s been great for them and to see them have to leave the field is a real and bigger concern for Lindsay’s health.”

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