Unbreakable Manly hold Roosters scoreless
They said all week that revenge wasn't on their minds, but rest assured Manly's 8-0 triumph over the Roosters would have been just that little bit sweeter than their previous nail-biting wins in 2014.
The Sea Eagles overcame a dogged Roosters outfit for the first time in five clashes as both sides produced a fitting sequel to last year's memorable decider, though a Jamie Lyon penalty goal on the stroke of full time provided an anti-climatic end to yet another low-scoring affair.
For the third time in four matches this season the Roosters found themselves on the wrong end of a lopsided penalty count, with the whistle blowing a staggering 11-2 in the Sea Eagles' favour, and a first-half try to winger Cheyse Blair proved enough for the visitors as they kept 2013's most potent attacking side scoreless for the first time since an 18-0 loss to the Panthers in early 2012.
A disallowed try to Daniel Tupou in the 73rd minute was the closest the Roosters came to cracking the Sea Eagles' line, while 14,902 fans were treated to a final five minutes reminiscent of a Three Stooges episode as Manly half Daly Cherry-Evans had repeated field goal attempts charged down and the Sea Eagles dropped more passes than they caught when faced with the chance to seal the match.
Minutes earlier Tupou had appeared to have levelled the scores when he crossed outwide, but the four-pointer was controversially denied as video referee Steve Clarke deemed the Manly defence had been obstructed when Roosters half Mitchell Pearce ran behind a decoy runner in the play's lead up.
From the outset both sides picked up where they had left off in their previous clashes with desperate goal-line defence in the opening 10 minutes, as first Boyd Cordner and then Peta Hiku were pulled down inches short of the line in the early exchanges.
Sea Eagles skipper Lyon opened the scoring with a penalty goal from 30 metres out, awarded for Jared Waerea-Hargreaves's high shot that gave Glenn Stewart an all expenses paid trip to Disneyland in the 18th minute.
The Kiwi enforcer faces a nervous wait after being placed on report for the hit, but Manly would've taken little comfort from the ruling as Stewart failed to return to the field.
With a whopping 58 per cent of possession in the first half and the lion's share of opportunities, Manly finally turned pressure into points in the 25th minute when Blair dived over in the corner against his old club after quick hands from Steve Matai saw the former Rooster and Eel bag his fourth try from as many starts this year.
There were shades of that famous semi-final of last year when the Sea Eagles hammered away at the Roosters line only to be told there was no room at the try-scoring inn, as the Tricolours repelled six repeat sets in their own half of the field to head into the break just six points in arrears and well and truly in the match.
Just as they had last October, both teams took to each other with relish upon the resumption, though neither could make the most of half chances in the face of desperate defence befitting two champion teams, and the match could've gone either way until referee Ben Cummins blew a final penalty for offside against the Roosters in the final minute of play.
The premiers now sit with a 2-2 win-loss record after a month of football, while Manly have proven again they are the masters of grinding out a tough win, with the eight-point margin incredibly their largest of the three wins they have registered to start the season.
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 8 (C Blair tries; J Lyon 2 goals) defeated Sydney Roosters 0 at Allianz Stadium Crowd: 14,902