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Roosters, Sea Eagles salute in historic NRL Vegas double-header

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The Manly Sea Eagles and Sydney Roosters made history on Sunday in Las Vegas, becoming the first NRL teams to earn premiership points outside Australia and New Zealand.

The Sea Eagles soared to victory over the South Sydney Rabbitohs with a commanding second-half performance, clinching a 36-24 win at Allegiant Stadium.

Amidst a closely contested first half, Daly Cherry-Evans and Luke Brooks emerged as pivotal figures, orchestrating Manly’s decisive surge in the last 40 minutes to secure their place in rugby league history.

The encounter commenced with both teams trading sets, culminating in Rabbitohs centre Richie Kennar seizing an early opportunity to etch his name into the game’s narrative with the opening try in the seventh minute.

Cody Walker’s adept chip and regather set the stage for Damien Cook’s delivery to Kennar, establishing a 6-0 lead for the Rabbitohs following Latrell Mitchell’s successful conversion.

However, Manly swiftly responded, capitalising on a dropped ball to level the score at 6-6 courtesy of Haumole Olakau’atu’s powerful surge over the try line.

The seesaw battle continued as both teams showcased their attacking prowess, with moments of brilliance interspersed with resilient defensive efforts.

The momentum swayed in favour of the Sea Eagles as Jason Saab’s intercept and subsequent sprint for a try under the posts propelled Manly into a 12-10 lead at halftime, following Reuben Garrick’s conversion.

The second half witnessed a relentless display of skill and determination from both sides, with Souths initially reclaiming the lead through Mitchell’s clinical finish and Alex Johnston’s try, extending their advantage to 20-12.

However, Manly retaliated emphatically, showcasing their depth and versatility as Lachlan Croker and Ben Trbojevic crossed over for crucial tries, propelling the Sea Eagles ahead.

A masterful display of precision from Cherry-Evans led to a try for Garrick as Manly sailed to a 30-20 lead, with Brooks — in his club debut — then putting the finishing touches on a memorable win.

In the second stanza of this historic double-header, the Sydney Roosters launched their 2024 campaign with a resounding 20-10 victory over the Brisbane Broncos.

Roosters centre Joey Manu — fresh from the birth of his first child in Australia — wasted no time making his mark on the game, intercepting Ezra Mam’s errant pass to score the opening try.

Deine Mariner crossed for the Broncos late in the opening half to narrow the deficit at the break, but there was more Manu magic still to come.

With an astonishing flick pass early in the second half, the Kiwi star set up another crucial try for Junior Pauga as the Roosters claimed a 14-4 lead.

By the final whistle, Manu boasted an impressive tally of 10 tackle breaks and 158 metres run.

Sydney captain James Tedesco proved instrumental in the Roosters’ victory, showcasing his leadership and skill with over 200 metres gained across 19 carries.

Meanwhile, Victor Radley and Lindsay Collins commanded the middle, stifling the Broncos’ attempts to break through.

The Broncos faced an uphill battle from the outset, exacerbated by the early loss of back-rower Brendan Piakura to a failed HIA assessment.

Despite Patrick Carrigan’s efforts to fill the void, the Broncos struggled to penetrate the Roosters’ well-organised defence.

Although the Broncos retaliated swiftly with a try from Reece Walsh, any hopes of a comeback were dashed by Radley’s try eight minutes from time.

The evening was not without controversy, however, with Roosters prop Spencer Leniu set to face NRL judiciary charges over allegations of levelling a racial slur at Mam, the Brisbane five-eighth.

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