A Round 4 trip to Gosford’s Bluetongue Stadium saw Manly hosting Wests Tigers on a wet and wild Monday night and with the rain belting down it was far from conducive to free-scoring football.
The two sides battled fiercely for 27 minutes before a Kieran Foran cross-field bomb was spilled by the Tigers and Tom Symonds pounced to open the scoring. It could have been more soon after when Brenton Lawrence broke clear, but the big prop only had eyes for the try line and was pulled down 35 metres out despite having an unmarked Brett Stewart looming up inside.
That left it at 4-0 at the break but Lawrence soon made up for his failure to pass when he produced a superb offload two minutes into the second half that resulted in David Williams crossing in the corner. That opened the floodgates for the Sea Eagles and four minutes later Williams had his second following crisp hands on his inside to make it 14-0.
The Tigers should have hit back only to have a try called back for an obstruction and Manly made them pay with a bizarre length-of-the-field effort to Daly Cherry-Evans. It began with the Tigers in possession on halfway and after spreading the ball to the right, Liam Fulton kicked ahead with Brett Stewart scooping it up near his own try line. Stewart then tried to pass to Cherry-Evans only to see the ball sail over his head. With a Tigers player racing through to try and plant the ball, Cherry-Evans instead toed the ball out of his in-goal area where it was fumbled by the Tigers – allowing the Manly halfback to pick up the scraps and race 80 metres to score!
The Tigers were stunned and couldn’t hold out Manly one more time with Foran’s second-man play to Stewart on the left giving Steve Matai an easy run to the line for a 26-0 win.
Although Mick Potter’s men enjoyed 52 per cent of possession, they only ran for 1108 metres compared to 1600 by the Sea Eagles with Manly also making seven line-breaks to two.
Jorge Taufua led the way with the ball in hand with 171 metres while Brenton Lawrence was strong with 135 metres and 38 tackles.
Benji Marshall kicked for a game-high 322 metres for the Tigers.