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Huge rugby league fixtures ruined as star accused of racial slur and fan left bloodied

In a triumphant moment for rugby league, the sport finally cracked the American market thanks to the NRL.

However, it did end in a rugby league controversy far bigger and more important than the scoreboard.

Inspired by a couple of acts of brilliance from centre Joey Manu, the Roosters got off to a winning start in 2024 by getting past the Broncos 20-10 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Sunday.

In front of a boisterous crowd of 40,746 – in the second act of the NRL’s historic double-header – the Roosters claimed their first Round 1 win since 2021 on the back of some huge plays from their star centre, who only arrived in the US days before kick-off due to the birth of his first child in Australia.

After picking off Ezra Mam’s wayward pass to score the opening try, Manu set another up early in the second half with an incredible flick pass and by full-time had 10 tackle breaks and 158 metres to his name.

Joseph Manu TryJoseph Manu Try
Joseph Manu Try
Captain James Tedesco was inspirational as well, averaging over 10 metres across 19 carries of the ball, while Victor Radley and Lindsay Collins had a commanding presence in the middle.

The Broncos were hurt badly by the early loss of back-rower Brendan Piakura to a failed HIA, which meant Patrick Carrigan had to move to the edge as cover, and struggled to break down a well organised Tricolours defence.

In contrast to the earlier game which saw end-to-end action, the first half was a tense affair with limited opportunities outside of Mam gifting the Roosters first points with his mistake.

A Sam Walker penalty stretched the lead to eight, but after weathering the storm for much of the first half the Broncos got their reward right on the break when Deine Mariner won the race to a Reece Walsh grubber.

Deine Mariner TryDeine Mariner Try
Deine Mariner Try
Walker kicked a field goal to add a point just before the half-time siren, but a shrewd captain’s challenge from the Broncos saw it overturned and the scoreboard remain 8-4.

Twelve minutes into the second stanza it was Manu’s time to shine again, as he came up with his mesmerising no-look flick pass to put Junior Pauga over.

That made it a 10-point game, but for a matter of only minutes, before Walsh started a left-side shift that ended in him popping up in support to score and cut the gap to four once again.

But Victor Radley’s try eight minutes from time killed off any thought of a dramatic comeback, with the Roosters holding on for a memorable victory.

Controversy ruins rugby league spectacle

According to reports, the the scuffle that concluded the match between the two title contenders was sparked by a racist remark.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Brisbane Broncos star Ezra Mam has accused Roosters rival Spencer Leniu of calling him a “monkey.”

This was exacerbated by the fact the Daily Telegraph is also reporting that a Manly fan was left bloodied after a fight in the stands.

They report: “A Manly fan has been struck in the face during an altercation at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

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