2021 NRL Semi-Final, Sea Eagles 42 Roosters 6 – Report

Shannon Meyer reviews the first knockout final and a rugby league masterclass from Tom Trobjevic.


Sea Eagles 42

Tries: Tom Trbojevic (5, 45) Kieran Foran (11), Daly Cherry-Evans (17), Morgan Harper (31) Dylan Walker (47), Jason Saab (68)

Goals: Reuben Garrick (7, 13, 18, 33, 46, 49, 70)

Roosters 6

Tries: Matt Ikuvalu (24)

Goals: Adam Keighran (40 – pen)

Player of the Year Points

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3 pts – Tom Trbojevic (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
2 pts – Jake Trbojevic (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
1 pt – Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)


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1st Half

The Manly Sea Eagles and Sydney Roosters met in a sudden death finals match in Mackay on Friday night where a lot of the pre-game hype surrounded the two fullbacks Tom Trobjevic and James Tedesco. Melbourne did a real job on the Manly number one last weekend in the first week of the Finals Series, so could the Roosters match them, and would that lead to victory?

The first part of that question was answered in the fourth minute when the Manly fullback opened the scoring for the Sea Eagles. It was a simple enough move to the right too with Daly Cherry-Evans simply looking for Tom Trbojevic who was lurking at the back and had too much speed to split Adam Keighran and Daniel Tupou and score in the corner. It was sustained Manly pressure after repeat set restarts and a bonus penalty on a reportable incident that was called back after Manly’s set ended. Reuben Garrick’s conversion made in 6-0 after five minutes.

The Roosters didn’t do themselves any favours by putting the kick off dead, handing Manly a free ride downtown. They didn’t cash in first time around when Jason Saab spilled the ball over the sideline.

Despite the setback it didn’t take Manly long to extend their lead: they did have most of the ball and territory. This try was a little different as it involved two Trbojevic brothers and Tom didn’t score. Jake Trbojevic was first receiver and he threw the perfect short pass to his brother who was flying onto the ball and into a sizeable gap in the Roosters’ defence, who then found Kieran Foran supporting. Another conversion and it was 12-0 to Manly and their prospects were significantly better than last weekend.

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Not long after Manly went further in front and it was oh so easy. Having been gifted a fresh set from a knock down of a pass late into their set the Sea Eagles were given a scrum 10 metres out. It took just one pass to find the line as Cherry-Evans ran onto the ball at first receiver and simply stepped and burst through a gaping hole in the Roosters’ line again to score easily. With more than three quarters of the game to go it was 18-0.

Emphasising which fullback was on top in this game the Roosters had a rare attack down the left in their next set as Tedesco burst through the line, but he was shut down by his opposite number which also made him lose the ball and hand possession back to Manly.

After having their first extended period of attack in Manly territory the Roosters scored their first try of the evening. They went right late in the set and scored with ease. The ball found its way to Victor Radley, then a cut out pass from Lachlan Lam to Tedesco, who threw another cut-out pass to Matt Ikuvalu who juggled the ball a little on his way to scoring. The sideline conversion was unsuccessful and Manly had a 14-point buffer.

Brad Parker (aka Hank Scorpio) ruined Manly’s chance to hit back straight away with a dropped play-the-ball right on the Roosters’ line.

It didn’t matter as Manly scored with their next set. Cherry-Evans decided to go against logic and run a short-side play. After a short run the halfback found a flying Saab who scooted down the touch line and found Morgan Harper on the inside in support and the Manly centre ran away to score. Garrick nailed the conversion to make it 24-4. It was going to take plenty for the Roosters to keep their season alive from here. Sam Walker had just joined the game from the bench so there was hope.

The Roosters shaved Manly’s lead by two points when Keighran slotted a penalty goal just on half-time after a successful Captain’s Challenge for a dropped ball.

HALF-TIME: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 24 Sydney Roosters 6

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2nd Half

The Sydney Roosters needed to score first in the second to be any chance of winning this contest, but the opposite happened and Manly scored their fifth try of the night. No surprise that it was Tom Trbojevic who grabbed the four pointer. His job was reasonably simple this time around, merely charging onto the ball from a metres out and slipping through some mediocre Roosters goal line defence. The hard work was done in the play before as brother Jake ran a good line off a flat ball up the middle and a supporting Dylan Walker just fell short of scoring himself. Garrick’s perfect night with conversions continued. Manly were already up to 30 points.

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The very next set it was another try and super sub Walker was the scorer this time. Having done the hard yards for the try before Walker ran a good line off a short Martin Taupau pass on the halfway line and sped away to score after a superb dummy on Tedesco. Manly were simply superb and 30 points in front with more than half-an-hour to play.

With the game all but over it turned into a bit of a grind, with errors and penalty sprinkled in the mix. If anything the Roosters had the upper hand with some decent field position during this period courtesy of some repeat sets caused by Walker improving the Roosters’ last tackle plays. Manly’s solid defence ensured the score remained the same for a long time.

Saab sparked the game a little when he scored a 75-metre runaway try for Manly after the Roosters spilled the ball from a cross-field kick and couldn’t clean it up quick enough for Manly’s Harper to pick up the ball and wait the Saab Express to run by. The Manly winger even had time to smile at his team mates on the sideline mid-run. Garrick continued his great night of goal conversions with another: 42-6 with 10 minutes to go and Cherry-Evans had even been given a breather at this stage.

Manly prop Josh Aloiai almost scored late in the game but was overruled by the Bunker.

It was a great performance from Manly and simply sensational from Tom Trobjevic again. Like the Dally M, he won our Player of the Year points despite missing a chunk of game time when he was replaced for the last 15 minutes. South Sydney may be a little worried based on Manly’s efforts tonight.

It was the end of the road for the Roosters in 2021, and their end result of a second finals week knockout is probably the maximum they were going achieve after a bad year for injuries and suspensions. A nice tribute to Josh Morris who given a send off worthy of his tremendous career.

There’s plenty of tarmac left for Manly who look very capable of going much further.

FULL-TIME: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 42 Sydney Roosters 6


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Match Review Committee

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