NRL: Manly shut out Tigers

Brenton Lawrence of the Sea Eagles dives with the ball. Photo / Getty Images
Brenton Lawrence of the Sea Eagles dives with the ball. Photo / Getty Images

Manly rewrote the definition of a scrappy NRL win, as they poured on the points late to shut out a poor Wests Tigers 26-0 on Thursday night at Bluetongue Stadium.

In a match played in steady drizzle on the NSW central coast, the Sea Eagles overcame a horrendous opening in which they failed to get out of their own 30-metre zone to run out five tries to nil winners - winger David Williams finishing with a double.

For a large portion of the match, it looked like neither team was going to score given their lack of ball control, Manly completing just seven of 18 sets in the opening half.

So bad was Manly's handling that even one of the home side's cheerleaders had to complete her halftime routine minus her pom-poms after dropping them early in the set.

Yet somehow the Sea Eagles took a 4-0 lead to the break when, on just their second venture into the Tigers' half, Daly Cherry-Evans kicked for the corner - James Tedesco spilling the ball for Tom Symonds to dive on it after 28 minutes.

It could have been a greater lead too had Brenton Lawrence not ignored a flying - and unmarked - Brett Stewart in support just before the break.

Nothing was going right for the Tigers, an early miss of a simple penalty goal attempt by Benji Marshall - after Justin Horo and Lawrence had been put on report for a dangerous throw - summing up their half.

Whether it was by design or a sign of the Tigers' play, Robbie Farah was benched with eight minutes remaining in the half, the recently re-signed skipper seemingly far from pleased with the move.

By the time he returned seven minutes after the restart, the Sea Eagles were ahead 14-0.

Williams crossed twice early in the second half, with his first coming off a forward pass which couldn't be ruled on by the video referee.

Twice, the Tigers found themselves over the tryline as they searched for a reply but, twice, they were called back for obstruction offences, which also denied Cherry-Evans a four-pointer for the Sea Eagles.

With the game gone, Cherry-Evans then scored a miraculous try which featured more soccer than rugby league - the Sea Eagles going from their own in-goal to the other tryline in a bizarre sequence of events before Steve Matai scored on the bell.

"It was one of the ugliest games I've seen in a long time," Manly coach Geoff Toovey said.

"Our defence was good ... but if we played some other teams, they would have made us pay very badly for that.

"We don't want to be doing that (defending so much) ... it's going to catch up with you eventually."

Farah admitted his displeasure at being replaced, but his real anger was saved for the NRL over the new interpretations of the obstruction rule.

"Players are using it as a cop-out," Farah said.

"You've got players in the defensive line just getting hit and then straight away putting their hands up, using it as a cop-out."


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