Sea Eagles fans’ classy gesture
During their team’s first home game since the passing of club legend Bob Fulton, Sea Eagles fans paid tribute in the classiest of ways.
The crowd gave Fulton a standing ovation in the 175th second of the match, honouring the late immortal, who was the 175th player to debut for Manly.
“It’s been a pretty emotional couple of weeks,” Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler told Fox League before the game against the Cowboys.
“Bob Fulton’s name is sort of synonymous with rugby league, it has been for over 50 years. We get a chance tonight to recognise that and to pay tribute to that.”
“Not many people have been able to accomplish what ‘Bozo’ did as a player, a coach, as an administrator” added commentator and Fulton’s long-time friend Greg Alexander.
Prior to kick-off, Fulton’s four granddaughters delivered the match ball to the centre of 4 Pines Park, where a stand is named in his honour, while his grandsons raised a Sea Eagles tribute flag.
In addition, the Sea Eagles wore custom jerseys inscribed with “Remembering Bob Fulton #175” for the game.
In place of their regular jersey sponsor, the Sea Eagles’ uniform on Friday night featured the 1957-64 Manly-Warringah logo.
Fulton passed away on May 23 following a long battle with prostate cancer. He was 73.
News of the three-time premiership winner’s death rocked the rugby league community. Countless figures within the game paid tribute to ‘Bozo’ and on June 4, he was farewelled at a state funeral in Sydney.
It turns out the Sea Eagles are more than just a one-man team after they recovered from a dreadful start to hammer the Cowboys 50-18 as Tom Trbojevic cheered on from the coaching box.
One-eyed Manly supporters headed to 4 Pines Park wondering how many local lagers they’d need to drown their sorrows after news filtered through earlier in the week that their superstar No. 1 would be rested after his State of Origin heroics.
But they needn’t have worried as his teammates picked up the slack to shore up their place in sixth position with a big win over their nearest rival.
“There’s a bit of a stigma that we’re not a team without Tom,” Sea Eagles skipper Daly Cherry-Evans said.
“This was a good night in trying to shake that tag.
“We are a better side with Tom in it – make no mistake – but we’ve built really nicely, and we’ve put ourselves in a position that when Tom is out, we’re a bit clearer on how we can play.”
Turbo’s aerial feats weren’t lost as Haumole Olakau’atu soared like an eagle to score two first-half tries from kicks, fill-in fullback Reuben Garrick returned a kick 95 metres to score, while the halves relentlessly peppered the ruck and wound back the clock when Kieran Foran latched onto a Daly Cherry-Evans grubber.
This is the same team that was tipped to get the spoon after they scored just 47 points in the first five rounds with Trbojevic out injured, but they’ve evolved since then and loom as the roughies to watch in the finals.
“We’ve had a fair bit of time to deal with it and process what it’s like when Tom isn’t playing,” Cherry-Evans said.
“No one will replace Tom – Tom is an important part of our team – but if Tom isn’t playing, no one can be Tom.”
Men against Cowboys
Queensland’s awful week continued as their leading team was taught a rugby league lesson by a team that wore maroon but played with blue pride.
The Cowboys looked set to pick up two crucial points after they jumped out to a 12-0 lead inside seven minutes thanks to a couple of classy Scott Drinkwater try assists, but they quickly discovered that you have to defend if you want to win in the NRL.
Their new-look right edge looked like they’d never met before as new recruit Tom Dearden, Justin O’Neill and Javid Bowen were torn to shreds by a team missing the competition’s best attacking weapon as well as Josh Schuster.
Dearden’s club debut was one to forget as he sent a kick sailing out on the full, but he had plenty of company on North Queensland’s sinking ship as the club racked up an embarrassing 38 missed tackles to Manly’s 15.
“I reckon we just thought it was going to happen for us,” Cowboys coach Todd Payten said.
“It was a really good lesson for us. It was a reality check and it’s a chance to recalibrate as a team.”
Holmes in hot water
Things could go from bad to worse for the Cowboys and Maroons after Valentine Holmes was placed on report for a shoulder charge as he tried to stop Olakau’atu from scoring a try in the shadows of halftime.
The star fullback will miss next week’s game against his former side the Sharks, as well as Origin II if charged given the loading he accrued from a similar incident in Round 20 that forced him out of Game One of the 2020 series.
“That’s not ideal,” Cherry-Evans said, admitting he didn’t see the tackle.
“Val played some really good footy in Origin. Hopefully he gets off if he’s charged. Hopefully he doesn’t even get charged.”
Originally published as Sea Eagles fans’ classy gesture