Manly did what they had to do in disposing of a pathetic South Sydney side 20-2 in an NRL clashÂ that struggled to keep the Brookvale Oval crowd awake today.
While it was hardly the type of performance that would have Melbourne worried ahead of the grand final rematch on Friday night, Manly took care of business in scoring three tries to none against a Souths side that threw nothing at the home side’s line.
The Bunnies curiously opted to take a shot at goal when handed a penalty 15 metres out from the Manly line after 10 minutes, when popular opinion would have thought the visitors could have pushed for an early try from the handy field position.
But given their ineptness close to the Sea Eagles’ line for the ensuing 70 minutes, one could understand the Rabbitohs taking any points on offer as they took a 2-0 lead.
Souths had received a pre-game boost when skipper Roy Asotasi declared himself fit to play following a bout of concussion, the world’s best front rower reportedly defying advice from the club’s celebrity owner Russell Crowe not to play.
He may have been feeling a little giddy when he gave away an offside penalty that put Manly on the attack, centre Jamie Lyon making opposite number Fetuli Talanoa look like he had suffered a head knock as he easily stepped his way past for a 6-2 lead.
Souths had an opportunity to hit back only for Beau Champion not to have the pace on the pursuing Michael Bani, the Manly winger lucky not to be sin-binned when penalised for holding on too long.
Like so many other attacking raids the ensuing set ended in yet another error, Manly capitalising on another penalty to get down the other end of the field where an Orford grubber found bulky prop Adam Cuthbertson scoring next to the posts.
Orford extended the advantage out to two converted tries after the break, and by the hour mark the crowd seemed more interested in a tussle between the rival mascots than the less-than-thrilling on-field entertainment.
It was only fitting that the home side iced the game on the back of a Souths error – Manly fullback Brett Stewart racing 60 metres to score under the posts after Nathan Merritt failed to find touch following a penalty.
MANLY 20 (A Cuthbertson, J Lyon, B Stewart tries. M Orford 4 goals) bt SOUTH SYDNEY 2 (N Merritt goal) at Brookvale Oval.
Referee: S Hayne.