Symonds says Manly lost forwards battle

Manly second-rower Tom Symonds has admitted defeat in the forwards battle after his side's 42-12 loss at the hands of the Parramatta Eels on Friday night.

The new-look Manly forward pack, featuring new recruits Willie Mason and Feleti Mateo, was thoroughly outmuscled, particularly later in the match as they conceded 26 second-half points.

Eels smash Manly in Round 1 
Eels v Sea Eagles: Five key points
Cherry-Evans signs with Titans
Manly lose Gutherson; Foran in doubt

"I think we went with them in the forwards for a good part of the game and then in the second half we lost the battle a bit," Symonds told NRL.com.

"That gave them an opportunity and their backs sort of ran amok. Chrissy Sandow was on fire and some of those things can come off when the forwards aren't winning that battle in the middle."

Despite only missing four more tackles than the Eels, the Manly pack was often ineffective in collisions and the ruck against their powerful opposites.

Bruising displays from young Parra forwards Tepai Moeroa, Darcy Lussick and Junior Paulo made it difficult for the Sea Eagles pack to ever get on the front foot.

"There were just a few times in the second half that we fell off a few tackles and lost the ruck a bit," Symonds said.

"Overall across the park we've got to make a few better decisions even out wide as well, it's not just the middle."

Symonds was forced to play at left centre for Manly 15 minutes into the game after a knee injury saw Clinton Gutherson take no further part in the game. 

Sea Eagles coach Geoff Toovey said it was a hard injury to cover, considering the lack of an outside back on his interchange bench, however Symonds seemed comfortable filling the void.

"I'm not unaccustomed to it," the 26-year-old former Rooster said.

"I've done it plenty of times, gone out in the centres. As soon as he [Gutherson] went down I pretty much knew I'd be going out there and that's what you've got to deal with.

"If someone goes down in the game you've always got to cover for it. It's not an excuse for anything."

Symonds told NRL.com earlier this year that the Manly forwards would have to step up this season in the wake of losing club stalwarts Jason King, Anthony Watmough and Glenn Stewart.

They didn't manage to do so in Round 1, with Willie Mason tweeting after the match: "Sorry to all manly supporters for 2nights effort, promise it'll be a totally different team next week." 

The Sea Eagles have a tough chance at quick redemption when they face the Storm at Brookvale Oval in Round 2.