Dan Walsh, Staff Writer
A spoonful of concrete was the catalyst, and a healthy dose of redemption the result of a pre-game pow-wow between Manly's forwards leading into the Sea Eagles 40-8 demolition job on the Tigers in front of the Brookvale faithful.
Bashed, battered, bullied and ultimately buried in a Leichhardt Oval bog three months ago, Manly's big men fronted up against the same pack vowing to return the favour at their own suburban fortress.
Back in April the Tigers tyros, led by Aaron Woods and Martin Taupau, ran rampant over the Sea Eagles' foot soldiers, to the tune of over 400 metres more up the middle.
As Manly dealt out a seven-tries-to-two shellacking, their big men more than held their own in gobbling up 1393 metres, 103 more than their opposite numbers, allowing the Forans, Stewarts and Cherry-Evans of the world to apply the polish that complements a bit of elbow grease oh so nicely.
Sea Eagles prop Brenton Lawrence revealed after the match that the 34-18 pantsing the Tigers pulled on the Northern beaches outfit had been a focus in the lead-up to the return fixture.
"There's always a bit of pride there," Lawrence told NRL.com in the sheds after the win.
"It's a physical game, played by physical men and if you come out second best; it's embarrassing.
"When we played at Leichhardt; that was embarrassing. And we just discussed that before we went out and made sure there would be no chance of them getting on top of us tonight."
Lawrence admitted last week's shock 23-16 loss to the Bulldogs, which the Sea Eagles were expected to win easily given the boys in blue were missing their representative halves duo of Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds, had also stung last year's grand finalists into an improved performance.
"We had a poor attitude last week when we played the Bulldogs, and certainly a poor attitude last time we played the Tigers," said Lawrence.
"We're a better team than how we've played a couple of games this year and it was satisfying to nail that tonight. We owed the Tigers one, and we know that's all it is, attitude.
"It's not a matter of not being able to get the job done. We know we can match anyone, it's just about showing up."
One of the few remaining question marks over the Sea Eagles premiership credentials thus far in 2014 is their tendency to drop from fifth gear to first in the matter of a week, a habit they can ill-afford to maintain come the business end of the season.
The week prior to being ambushed by the Tigers in Round 5, Manly had held the reigning premiers scoreless on their own turf. A second defeat of their arch-rivals the Roosters was followed with last week's flat showing against the Bulldogs, and while Lawrence admitted the Sea Eagles' consistency was a concern, he is confident it won't be come finals time.
"It's a matter of maintaining the rage. It's a long season; it's very physical, very hard to produce quality football week after week.
"That's not saying it can't be done, we pride ourselves on doing that, but teams are going to lose games.
"It's a matter of how you bounce back and we've done that tonight, and now it's on us to keep building on that ability for the rest of the year."