Unsung heroes helping the Sea Eagles soar
Manly's impressive start to the season continued on Friday night with the Sea Eagles notching their third win on the trot courtesy of an 18-12 victory over the Roosters at Allianz Stadium.
Normally the two competition points would come on the back of a special play by stars Tom Trbojevic or Daly Cherry-Evans, but this time around it was Manly's unheralded troops running the show.
Granted Dylan Walker won the game with a couple of second-half tries, but Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett was full of praise for players like Akuila Uate and Curtis Sironen who both came to the club with a point to prove and have since repaid the faith.
Uate wound back the clock with 145 metres and two line breaks and was rock solid under the high ball despite being peppered all night long by Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce, while Sironen backed up last week's impressive showing against the Bulldogs with 156 metres and 31 tackles against the Roosters' quality pack.
"They've all got a bit of a point to prove," Barrett said of his new recruits.
"I think Akuila Uate has been one of our most consistent players over the last month. 'Siro' has been terrific for us and Frank Winterstein has been good for us.
"There are a lot of unheralded players in our team who not a lot of people sit up and take notice of, but they work bloody hard to put themselves in the positions that they're in."
Barrett also paid special mention to veteran front-rowers Nate Myles and Brenton Lawrence whose level heads were crucial with the game on the line, while firebrands Martin Taupau and Addin Fonua-Blake provided the fireworks through the middle.
"Nate and BJ (Lawrence) are on the wrong side of 30, you could say, but they've been two of our best players over the last two weeks," he said.
"There's a good balance with Addin and Marty with their power, but Nate and BJ are just tough – and they're mentally tough – which is why they've had such long careers."
Barrett isn't getting ahead of himself this early in the season, but knows how important a result like this against the previously unbeaten Roosters is for his team at this stage of the year.
"We've had two good weeks prior to tonight, but this was a real test for us," Barrett said after the game.
"It was a real grinding win on a wet night – not a pretty night – so I thought we were really good and it was a very valuable two points for us and a real confidence builder for us.
"We've got a lot of young players in our team who haven't played in games like that before so it's a big confidence builder for them and it gives us a bit more belief.
"I think we still have things to work on – we made it hard on ourselves again – but I'm just really proud of the players."