The Roosters laid down a marker to the rest of the NRL with a nine-try demolition of Manly at the SCG

3.42am EST03:42
Jonathan Howcroft
Thank you very much for joining me today for what turned out to be a stroll in the afternoon sunshine for the Sydney Roosters. The mismatch was so stark, the biggest storyline to emerge from the match was the concussion to Jake Friend. The Easts rake has a history of head knocks, and with Boyd Cordner already taking an extending spell on the sidelines to deal with his concussion issues, Trent Robinson could be forced into some difficult decisions.
He doesnt have much else to worry about though as his side racked up a record points haul, despite missing four conversions. Lam and Keary will be better for the run in the halves, but that partnership remains a work in progress, otherwise it was a day out. The pack dominated, with six forwards carrying for over 100m. The ferocious Waerea-Hargreaves started and finished on the bench, such is Sydneys strength in that department. But its in the outside backs where they really shone. Tedesco and Brett Morris both celebrated hat-tricks as they waltzed through the Sea-Eagles at will.
Its back to the drawing board for Des Hasler. The decision to start Dylan Walker at fullback backfired, and Lachlan Croker was anonymous at dummy-half, both big calls that failed to come off. He wasnt helped by Daly Cherry-Evans turning in one of the poorest performances of his career, despite having his old mucker Kieran Foran alongside him.
Theres time for Manly to get their act together, but theyre unlikely to be challenging the finals on that showing. The Roosters, on the other hand, have laid down one heck of a marker to the rest of the competition.
Sydney Roosters demolished Manly Sea Eagles at the SCG. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP
3.30am EST03:30
Roosters 46-4 Manly
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TRY! Roosters 46-4 Manly (Josh Morris 79)
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77 mins: Sydney build down the left from the restart, but that opens up the right wing for the finish, but metres from the line Brett Morris runs out of space.
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74 mins: This one is over, but that doesnt stop Brett Morris – whos scored a hat-trick remember – plucking out a huge up-and-under on his wing, under serious pressure. That sets up the Roosters for another solid set that ends with another mischievous Lam spiral that results in a forlorn Sea Eagles chaser dragged behind for a drop-out.
3.20am EST03:20
TRY! Roosters 40-4 Manly (Crichton 71)
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71 mins: Manly also look ropey in defence too. Walker is not a fullback, and he makes an absolute mess of a dangerous Lam spiral.
3.16am EST03:16
70 mins: The TV boys are already discussing the following contest between the Panthers and the Cowboys. That tells you all you need to know about how this ones going. Manly look awful going forward. DCE has had a stinker.
3.13am EST03:13
67 mins: Oh wow. Manly havent landed a blow all half, and once again they are catastrophic in possession in attacking territory. This time Trbojevic shells a simple feed on the burst as first receiver. Des Hasler must be wondering what happened to all that preseason optimism.
3.11am EST03:11
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TRY! Roosters 34-4 Manly (Brett Morris 63)
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60 mins: Manly control the set, inviting DCE to kick high to the corner, but Tupou handles the pressure with aplomb. As expected, both sides are starting to look gassed.
3.01am EST03:01
58 mins: Sydney have another go, chipping away through the middle, then the left edge, but Manly defend well, then Foran darts away to gain some decent territory after following up his own charge-down.
3.00am EST03:00
56 mins: Yikes, thats a shocker from Garrick, dropping Kearys bomb on his 10m line. Tupouniua is on hand to pick up the pieces and gallop over for the score. Or not. The TMO has found a double knock-on on the slow-mo that absolutely nobody else cared less about. That was a try every day of the week for the past 100 years, except the one day featuring a pernickety video referee.
2.55am EST02:55
TRY! Roosters 30-4 Manly (Tedesco 54)
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52 mins: Another set passes without attacking cohesion, this time from the Roosters down the left. Manly sense a glimmer of hope down their left in reply, but Brett Morris is on hand to knock down the attempted intercept and keep play stop-start around midfield.
2.49am EST02:49
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50 mins: Friend is off for an HIA. I cant see him returning tonight, and perhaps not for a couple of weeks after that. Hopefully its nothing too serious.
2.45am EST02:45
49 mins: Both teams threaten to profit from the broken field but Lam cant outrun the Manly defence, then Walker cant hold onto possession on the right wing with the Sea Eagles building nicely. Sensing the chaos, Keary kicks smartly to the right corner, sending Manly on their tails, and setting up solid field position. But Davey makes a mockery of that territorial disadvantage, lining up Jake Friend with a bullocking run and collecting the Sydney rake with a clash of heads that sends the No 9 to the turf in a heap.
2.43am EST02:43
46 mins: Its a bit scrappy from both sides at the start of this half. Manly somehow end up with Gosiewski trusted with kicking duties, before Waerea-Hargreaves catches Foran with a swinging arm in a tackle, then coughs up a penalty and goes on report for roughhousing Sironen at his own play the ball.
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41 mins: With the SCG now in shadow, the second half is underway.
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Half-time: Roosters 26-4 Manly
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Roosters 26-4 Manly (Brett Morris 40)
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37 mins: Sydney almost punish the mistake immediately. Tedesco is involved twice with blistering snipes but when the decisive move needed to be made nobody appeared on Tedescos outside to nurture the ball into the right corner. Lam had to be more assertive, but when he did step in, he knocked on.
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TRY! Roosters 20-4 Manly (Brett Morris 32)
2.08am EST02:08
33 mins: Thats a couple of high-risk plays from a couple of high-risk footballers. Cherry-Evans kicks on tackle two following a set restart on halfway. It dribbles behind Tedesco who tries to shepherd the ball over the line – and he does! Huge turnover of possession. Tedesco may have got away with a faint touch at the very end, but Manly opt not to challenge.
2.06am EST02:06
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TRY! Roosters 16-4 Manly (Tedesco 26)
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23 mins: Sironen loses in contact, but the scrum feed on halfway goes Manlys way. Paseka makes a muscular drive at the heart of Sydneys defence, but theres not a lot more to write home about before Sironen is forced to hand the ball over. That was surprisingly blunt from the Sea Eagles.
1.57am EST01:57
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1.54am EST01:54
TRY! Roosters 10-4 Manly (Tupouniua 17)
1.50am EST01:50
16 mins: Friend and Keary get their wires crossed and Manly are gifted a scrum 30m out. Once more they focus on the left edge with Trbojevic and Foran, who earns a set restart. This time they load up on the right and get the ball in Cherry-Evans hands under the post – but he knocks on in the tackle! Huge let-off for Sydney.
1.48am EST01:48
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TRY! Roosters 4-4 Manly (Garrick 10)
1.42am EST01:42
8 mins: First error from the Roosters with Keary overcooking his kick and handing possession to Manly near halfway. Parker and Sironen smash the line hard with Croker nimble around the play-the-ball. Eventually they reach touching distance and Cherry-Evans kicks the grubber, but Tedesco does enough to smother a dangerously bouncing ball. Its a line drop-out though.
1.39am EST01:39
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TRY! Roosters 4-0 Manly (Tedesco 3)
1.34am EST01:34
2 mins: Josh Morris recovers a near-fumble to take Easts to halfway after just two tackles, setting up Keary for a bomb to Saabs corner, but its taken easily. Nothing of note from Manly going the other way, not that many teams get much change from that formidable Roosters defensive unit.
1.33am EST01:33
James Tedesco accepts the opening kick, and were underway at the SCG…
1.32am EST01:32
And here come the Roosters, in their traditional tricolour uniform, to plenty of cheers.
1.31am EST01:31
Manly, in their change strip of white with Maroon trim, are out on the sundrenched SCG.
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Manly lineup
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Roosters lineup
12.56am EST00:56
12.49am EST00:49
Jonathan Howcroft
Hello everybody and welcome to live coverage of the opening round of action in this years NRL premiership. Coming up we have the star studded Sydney Roosters taking on their rivals from across the harbour, Manly Sea Eagles. Kick-off at the SCG is 5.30pm.
Its perilous to make bold assumptions before a tackle has been laid in anger, but the Roosters are going to be there or thereabouts again, arent they? There is class all the way through the squad, topped off by fullback James Tedesco, the best player in the competition. The absence of Boyd Cordners leadership could become a factor, but theres no shortage of experience elsewhere in Trent Robinsons best XIII.
Easts have plenty of making up to do following a disastrous slump at the end of last season saw them lose three on the bounce and limp to a straight sets finals exit. They wont have the sideshow that is Sonny Bill Williams to contend with this year, but they have invited another into their ranks with the controversial recruitment of teenager Joseph Suualii.
Talking about late-season slumps, Manly won only once after round 11 last year, finishing 13th on the ladder. And they begin this campaign lacking star fullback, and Corso sprinter, Tom Trbojevic for four weeks with a hamstring tear.
But Des Hasler is typically bullish about his sides prospects, and there was a twinkle in his eye when he was asked about the returning Kieran Foran, with the five-eighth, who featured 147 times for the Sea Eagles at the start of his career, back in the No 6 jersey.
Remember, you can join in the conversation via email: or Twitter: @JPHowcroft.
The biggest prizes in rugby league are up for grabs once again at the start of the 2021 NRL premiership season. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images