It was built up to be the clash of the round, but a comprehensive display by Manly all but shut out a Wests Tigers team that had little direction in attack.
As so often is the case, the Tigers really needed to score early to get their confidence up – unfortunately for them, Manly went in after only a few minutes. 3 back to back penalties from Steve ‘Terminator’ Clark had Manly attacking the Tigers line constantly with Glenn Stewart barging over from point blank range.
The majority of the first half then turned into an arm wrestle. Poor kicks from Manly allowed the Tigers to stay in the hunt, plenty of Orford 5th tackle options would reach Fitzhenry on the full and gifted the Tigers good field position.
The Tigers seemed focused on many set plays; they tried a wrap around and kick for winger try on the first tackle – narrowly missing a try, as a wide Chris Lawrence was beaten by the ball over the deadball line. These moves look great when a try ensues, but are absolute game killers when possession is lost on the zero or first tackle.
If these moves didn’t hurt the Tigers enough, Manly’s best player in 2007 – Michael Monaghan’s brilliant try seconds before half time did plenty of damage. From 5 metres out, Monaghan beat 5 Tigers players to send the home side to a comfortable lead at the break 12-4.
The Sea Eagles machine clicked into 5th gear in the second half, piling on 28 points without reply – with recently maligned Jamie Lyon finding some form and putting veteran Steve Menzies into some holes to score. The Manly win was even more impressive considering they had some late changes, Mark Bryant starting at prop and some minor changes on the bench also.
There’s no doubt Manly had spoken about the ‘Most overrated NRL team tag’, however coach Des Hasler didn’t want to talk about that too much. He instead put the focus on Jamie Lyon and was impressed how Lyon answered the call of his critics this week with a good game.
Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens criticised his teams lack of direction in attack. The Tigers do suffer without Robbie Farrah at hooker, and Dene Halatau didn’t have his best game at dummy half – regularly putting pressure on his teammates with some poor passing.
The Tigers face the Warriors next week in a home game for the Western Suburbs side. Manly head over to Cronulla to face the Sharks.
Broncos hold off Cowboys in Townsville
Brisbane 24 def Cowboys 16
The Brisbane Broncos have held off a strong second-half fightback from the Cowboys to hang on to a 24-16 win at Dairy Farmers Stadium.
The Brisbane Broncos set up their win with an strong first half performance. Taking a 24-4 lead into halftime. In the second half, a Matt Bowen led Cowboys tried valiantly to steal the points, coming back bigtime into the contest with several second-half tries.
Simple errors in possession while in the Broncos half cost North Queensland dearly, as they camped in Broncos territory late in the game but just couldn’t stop the Broncos from clinching a fifth straight victory.
Brisbane began the game with a try to Dane Carlaw in under 10 minutes. Darren Lockyer setting up the try, sending a nice ball to the hard running Dane Carlaw who went to score.
Broncos halfback Michael Ennis was penalised for a late tackle on Johnathan Thurston, and the Cowboys were soon on the board as some quick hands allowed Ashley Graham to cross in the corner.
Another great passing move led to the visitors’ next try, with Karmichael Hunt performing a wrap-around before sending winger Steve Michaels clear.
Brisbane extended the gap to 18-4 with some more Lockyer brilliance, with the star pivot shrugging off an attempted tackle from Thurston to break the line before putting Hunt in.
It got worse for North Queensland when they lost Jason Smith to a badly sprained ankle, before the Broncos moved upfield with a penalty and scored through a ducking and weaving Corey Parker.
Parker converted the try himself to continue a perfect goal-kicking effort and give the near-faultless Brisbane a 20-point halftime advantage.
The Cowboys’ woes continued after the break, with Thurston seemingly scoring a try only to be disallowed by video referee Tim Mander because of an obstruction.
But the home side soon reduced the deficit as Matt Bowen drifted across-field before linking up with Scott Minto who sent Graham over for his second.
Bowen then scored a superb solo try to put the Cowboys within striking distance, with Graham’s sideline conversion making it 24-16.
North Queensland continued to push for the win with Bowen sparking more free-wheeling attacking plays, but the Broncos’ defence held firm