Manly Sea Eagles 34 – Parramatta Eels 30

It was brutal, hard-work, needing plenty of grit and determination, but Manly prevailed thanks in no small part to the hard running of Tommy Trbojevic in their end-of-week clash with Parramatta.

The Sea Eagles’ fullback ran for 191 metres (55 of them post contact) and also broke free of nine tackles, while combining well with the other Manly standout Josh Schuster, whose kicking game at times was inch perfect.

The Multicultural Round of the NRL kicked off with a belter of a battle between the unbeaten Sea Eagles and last year’s grand finalists Parramatta, that left the champions with no wins from their first three games.

The contest everyone had their sights on was between the dangerously in-form Daly Cherry-Evans and the Eels’ marquee man, Mitchell Moses. The halfback clash promised to be ferocious and it was. But, in the end, statistics showed the real contest was between the fullbacks Trbojevic and Clint Gutherson.

The first half got off to a blazing start with a very quick style of footy being played by both sides. A standout for Manly was Schuster who played his first game of the season at five-eighth, showing his exceptional ball-playing and in-game kicking ability in the halves. He made his mark quickly, involved in the first try scored by prolific left winger Reuben Garrick.

The right edge defence for Parramatta appeared weak at times, as Eels winger Bailey Simonsson was caught out on many occasions, and the team’s discipline initially was lacking. This became evident when the Blue and Gold gave away a penalty for a sluggish offside offence, allowing the Sea Eagles to go up 8-0.

With 15 minutes left of the first half, Tom Trbojevic nonchalantly cruised over the try line, displaying his forward-like strength. Things were looking lost, before the King, Gutherson, created something out of nothing, using his remarkable ball-running skills to score with only a few minutes left of the half.

Soon after, an elegant short ball from Moses saw Matt Doorey score his first try as a Parramatta player, settling the score at 14-10.

With the Manly defence asleep at the wheel and a reinvigorated Parramatta side, fans were promised a fierce second half.

Tommy Turbo crossed the try line yet again only a minute into the second, but the bunker quickly disallowed this due to a penalty in the build up from Brad Parker, who played his 100th career game. All of a sudden, the tables had turned; the Eels found their groove and seemed to be on top.

Gutherson soon went over for his second of the night, following some lacklustre defence up the middle from Manly. It became clear after the concession of this try the Sea Eagles line defence is not quite all it shapes up to be. With half-an-hour to go, a chip kick exhibiting sheer intuition by Schuster saw Trbojevic go over for his second try, handing the lead back over to the boys from 4 Pines, making it 18-16.

Manly scored again off the back of a brilliant field-length kick from Cherry-Evans, allowing Brad Parker to go over against his favourite opposition. He has scored most of his tries against the Eels.

Shortly after this, Tongan international Christian Tuipulotu went over for the Sea Eagles, but in a let off for Parramatta, the try was disallowed as he had lost control of the ball in the put down.

In spite of this, it seemed as though the game was Manly’s to lose after a brilliant try from Haumole Olakau’atu, assisted beautifully by Schuster with an inch-perfect kick. Unwilling to give up, the Eels relentlessly challenged the Sea Eagles line defence and went over by way of Maika Sivo.

The game remained a contest ‘til the very end.


Wasting no time, Parramatta went over again through a stunning brand of footy, with try scorer Josh Hodgson at the helm. In such a high scoring affair, another try was inevitable. A calamitous offload from J’maine Hopgood went straight into the hands of Olakau’atu, literally handing the Sea Eagles another try. Just as the match felt as though it was over, Sivo went over for his second of the night.

The great rivalry eventually did come to an end, the score 34-30 in favour of coach Anthony Seibold’s Sea Eagles.

Manly can attribute their success in this game to the unrelenting hard work of their star boy Trbojevic. For Parramatta, Gutherson ran for 132m (33 post contact) and broke the line on two very important occasions. Also worth mentioning was Will Penisini who was arguably the Eels’ best outside back, running for 163m (66 post contact), breaking the line on three occasions and offloading the ball three times in key moments.

It is clear to see Seibold’s revitalised Manly side are destined for greatness in 2023. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Brad Arthur and the Eels, as they continue their losing streak to 0-3.

To add to the stress, Parramatta have tough fixtures against the Panthers and Roosters coming up, and with Moses’ future still uncertain, it looks like the cracks are already showing for the Eels.

Main picture screenshot courtesy of NRL.