Despite the best efforts of the Newcastle Knights, the Novocastrians slumped to a fourth loss of the season, defeated by the Manly Sea Eagles.
Unable to recover from an early 18-0 deficit, although they did their best to get back in the contest, it was too little, too late.
The Sea Eagles started with more energy as 200-gamer Daly Cherry-Evans and Kane Elgey both combined.
Their combination led to the game’s opening try for winger Jorge Taufua. A tough sideline conversion was made and Manly went up 6-0.
Just five minutes later, Manly extended their lead as Apisai Koroisau exploited poor defence to scoot away to find Taufua.
Chased down by Knights winger Edrick Lee, Taufua then found opposite winger Reuben Garrick inside who scored an easy try.
The Knights chances hit a snag when Kalyn Ponga was taken from the field for HIA after a high shot.
Ponga would return but not until the back end of the first-half and by then, the Manly side had a commanding 18-0 lead.
Jake Trbojevic then showed off his silky kicking skills, grubbering ahead for Joel Thompson to score a try.
Penalties galore for the Knights were not enough to see them score and they could have gone further behind but for a Manly shepherd.
Kalyn Ponga sprung into action when he returned to the field; first setting up Edrick Lee with a grubber kick.
Then kicking off numerous attacking raids with blistering line-breaks.
The pressure proved telling as Aidan Guerra then scored the Knights second try to get them back in the contest.
His night would end soon after, however, suffering a suspected broken tibia and fibula.
A Cherry-Evans penalty goal put Manly up 20-12 as the Knights had chances to narrow the deficit after Addin Fonua-Blake was sin-binned.
They failed to do so and were unable to crack the Manly line, with Nathan Brown’s job now facing further pressure.
With three straight wins to their name, Manly coach Des Hasler is not getting carried away yet.
“It’s only round five. We’ve got a long way to go. We’re still building,” Hasler said.
“We’re thereabouts. We’re in amongst it.
“I just thought that given our start, and we were probably in a position to maybe win one of those games, that it’s just good to get a little bit of momentum, and to pick up three wins is important.”
There were no excuses from Brown who just lamented his side’s poor start.
“Our lack of intensity to start the contest, we were really poor there, and not at the level we’ve certainly been at for the first four weeks,” Brown said.
“The fact that we had two real tough, tight losses, to think we could just mosey on through against a good side in that early part … was very, very disappointing.
“I can’t make any excuse for anything. I can’t offer anything.”
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Jake Trbojevic
2. Kalyn Ponga
- Daly Cherry-Evans