NRL Round 3, 2008 – Manly Sea Eagles vs NZ Warriors @ Brookvale Oval

It’s the Manly Sea Eagles of old tonight at Brookvale, the home side looking the goods as they ran up a handy lead over the possession starved NZ Warriors.

Manly having good success using Jamie Lyon in the centres, veteran Steve Menzies playing solidly mid field at five-eighth. Using their possession to good effect a busy Matt Orford has been running to the line and the Eagles have enjoyed the fruits of his efforts.

The Eaglesscored several tries attacking the Warriors right hand edge in period 1, attacking Patrick Ah Van and getting tries to Michael Roberston. A good kick chase producing one try and the other a nice movement setup by Jamie Lyon as he drew Tate and Ah Van to put Robertson away again. At 16-0 it seemed the Sea Eagles could really run away with this one.

The Warriors were dropping the ball at crucial times and some poor calls from referee Sean Hampstead cost the NZ Warriors dearly at times. However in one of only a few sets in attacking field position, the Warriors came up with a good try to Lance Hohia, the small man running hard at the line from 5m off a well timed Michael Witt pass. Hohia hitting Brent Kite and Josh Perry yet still spinning and scoring. With such little ball and virtually no field position somehow the Warriors were hanging in, now on the board at 16-6.

Witt went from hero to villian only seconds later, the half back dropping the ball from the restart and Orford happily collecting the scraps on the full to run 8m to score untouched. The try putting the Eagles safely ahead at 22-6. This miss from Witt the major turning point of the game, this really looked to have cost the Warriors any chance of staying with Manly as they hit the gas pedal.

The Warriors hoping to see more possession in the second half, but they simply didn’t hold on to it when it came. Manly had only scored 4 tries prior to tonight, but have come out and pinched 4 in a single half – easily their best half of football during the NRL 2008 season. But there was plenty more to come, the result getting embarressing for the Warriors as it dragged on.

Coming out after half time, Manly were immediately dominant. The Warriors being asked to secure the ball by coach Ivan Cleary, but treating it with no respect and giving away too many penalties to be competitive. Against Manly this red hot, they had no chance with the ball – let alone without it.

At the 54 min mark when Anthony Watmough went over the score, there was clear interference on defender Logan Swan by Ben Cuthbertson. Sent to the video referee, Steve Clark made an aboslute howler of a call – somehow he came up with a try ruling when it was a clear cut no-try to Manly. It’s simply amazing how video referee calls can still be made incorrectly, this was a ‘classic intereference play’ and ruled a try – it makes everyone wonder what the hell is going on. The score 32-6 after this call from Clark.

Fortunately the shocking video referee call didn’t really matter, even Bill Harrigan if he was involved somewhere couldn’t stop the Manly Sea Eagles from rolling on – the Eagles putting on a stack of tries, with Brett Stewart in vintage form and new winger Michael Bani playing out of his skin. With 20 minutes to go in the game, Manly were ready to make the score anything – getting out to 38-6 and looking ominous.

Things got really ugly for the Warriors, with Manly running absolutely riot. The Eagles having success on both wings and the try of the match coming with 7 minutes to go – Heath L’Estrange taking the ball from dummy half and crab running across field, throwing thousands of dummies and picking up a flying Brett Stewart – the fullback getting in front of his man and throwing an around the corner pass to Michael Robertson aka Jesus Christ Superstar – bagging 3 tries for night Robertson.

Stewart wasn’t to be outdone, the speedy fullback getting his third try seconds afterwards – taking full advantage of yet another Warriors mistake.

The numbers getting big, Anthony Watmough taking home 2 tries, Robertson and Stewart a triple each.

The Eagles hitting 52 points to 6 with five minutes to go.

Jason Taylor and the South Sydney Rabbitohs must be absolutely petrified about facing Manly at Brookvale next week – the Bunnies could be facing an 0-4 start to the season against a now in form Sea Eagles.

By ricky

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