Hopoate steps up as Sea Ea­gles soar

Townsville Bulletin - - NRL -

MANLY young gun Will Hopoate made a strong case for hold­ing a per­ma­nent spot in the cen­tres with a dom­i­nant per­for­mance in the Sea Ea­gles’ 26-12 NRL win over New­cas­tle yes­ter­day.

All eyes were on Brett Ste­wart in his re­turn to Brook­vale, and while he had a hand in a cou­ple of tries, the talk of the ground quickly be­came the Knights’ courage un­der fire.

New­cas­tle were left with no play­ers on the bench for the fi­nal 20 min­utes and suf­fered five se­ri­ous in­juries, with five-eighth Beau Henry ( bro­ken an­kle) the worst of them.

For Manly it was their sec­ond-straight win, but it’s clear there’s plenty of work to be done as they strug­gled to put away an ill-dis­ci­plined Knights who were out on their feet.

Hopoate, 19, was the high­light for Manly.

He showed in­cred­i­ble strength in bag­ging a dou­ble and made an ar­gu­ment for why he could po­ten­tially keep a Test in­ter­na­tional out of the cen­tres when Manly’s three-quar­ter line wel­comes back their full com­ple­ment of play­ers.

New Zealand rep­re­sen­ta­tive Steve Matai will re­turn from sus­pen­sion in round five, while co-cap­tain Jamie Lyon is also ex­pected back then from his ham­string in­jury.

Hopoate’s per­for­mances over the past two weeks in­di­cate coach Des Hasler will need to find a per­ma­nent place for him in the back­line and the off-con­tract rookie is build­ing a com­pelling case for be­ing kept as a weapon at cen­tre.

‘ ‘ He’s been tremen­dous. He’s a con­fi­dent young kid,’’ Hasler said.

‘‘ He’s re­ally step­ping up – two weeks in a row he’s come up with im­por­tant tries for us. He just con­tin­ues to grow.’’

The hum­ble ’ Hoppa Jr’ re­fused to credit any­thing but luck for the hulk - like strength he showed in fight­ing off four de­fend­ers for his first try, but the Sea Ea­gles will be quickly look­ing to tie up his tal­ents on a new deal.

‘‘ I think I was just a bit l ucky t here, one of t he New­cas­tle boys turned me over, so thanks to them,’’ Hopoate said.

Shan­non Mc­Don­nell and Richard Fa’aoso (con - cus­sion) , Ben Rogers ( shoul­der, six weeks) and Cameron Ci­raldo ( pec­toral, six-eight weeks) were the Knights’ other in­juries.

They’re hopeful Henry’s an­kle in­jury isn’t sea­so­nend­ing. Ci­raldo and Fa’aoso played on in­jured for sig­nif­i­cant pe­ri­ods in the sec­ond half.

Knights coach Rick Stone was left frus­trated by four dif­fer­en­tial penal­ties from scrums, in­clud­ing one for half­back Jar­rod Mullen feed­ing the scrum through the sec­ond row – a rule which hasn’t been en­forced in decades.

Stone and Mullen said the ref­er­ees’ new crack­down on scrums was un­nec­es­sary.

‘‘ It’s a tough penalty. I saw Kieran Fo­ran do it twice af­ter me and he didn’t pe­nalise them,’’ Mullen said.

Sea Ea­gles 26

Knights 12

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.