Dan Walsh, NRL.com
A near-perfect first half from the Sea Eagles, a woeful opening period from the Tigers and several controversial decisions from the officials has seen Manly run out 40-8 victors for their ninth consecutive win at Brookvale Oval.
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By the half hour mark Manly had recorded but a single error, while the Tigers had six to their name to complement the four penalties they conceded in the opening eight minutes, as Manly took full advantage of a whopping 56 per cent of possession to post four first half tries to zip.
Manly's rapid-fire assault on the visitors’ line continued over the course of the second stanza as they cut a patched-up Tigers backline to ribbons, with the black and gold's struggling to overcome the loss of Pat Richards due to a groin injury, as Daly Cherry-Evans and Brett Stewart ran in impressive long range tries on the back of first half doubles from Peta Hiku and Kieran Foran.
Already missing almost 800 games worth of top grade experience through the loss of regular first graders Braith Anasta, Liam Fulton, Tim Moltzen, Tim Simona, Corey Paterson, Bodene Thompson and James Tedesco, the Tigers’ woes were compounded by the sight of Richards departing up the tunnel in the 18th minute, as well as the citing of skipper Robbie Farah for a lifting tackle on Sea Eagles prop Josh Starling.
With the opening stages set to redefine the term frantic, Tigers winger David Nofoaluma dragged himself across the line from a set piece move from an early scrum in just the second minute, only for on-field referee Shayne Hayne to rule he lost the ball in the process of planting it down despite subsequent replays suggesting otherwise and the Tigers' calls for the decision to be referred upstairs falling on deaf ears.
And in just sixty seconds the decision proved the catalyst for a 12-point turnaround, as Manly earned a penalty coming out of trouble before Stewart sliced through the Tigers' left edge via a contentious decoy play, then linking with Hiku to open the home side's account in the fifth minute.
A second four-pointer to Hiku, the beneficiary of some slick Sea Eagles hands close to the line, came after Robbie Farah was placed on report for a lifting tackle on Josh Starling, and pushed the Manly lead into double figures as members of the 13,432 crowd were still finding their seats.
The scorers finally were finally given a chance to catch their breath as the Tigers went about working their way back into the contest only for a series of knock-ons in Manly territory to cruel their chances, as breaks by first Martin Tapau and then Nofoaluma went unrewarded as what at one-stage was a 6-0 penalty count was returned to level pegging.
But the second two-try haul of Foran's 128-game career, the first in the 25th minute courtesy of a long break from youngster Clinton Gutherson and the second the result of a yet another blink-and-you'll-miss-it combination with Stewart poured salt onto the Tigers’ self inflicted wounds and pushed the Sea Eagles out to a 22-0 lead when oranges were taken.
Picking up where they left off after the break the Sea Eagles again hammered the visitors’ line, with only a contender for try-saving tackle of the season from Blake Austin denying Jamie Buhrer his fifth touchdown of the season. There were to be no heroics on the next play however, as Foran put Gutherson over in the right corner to put the Tigers to bed with just under half an hour still to play.
Some classic ad-lib footy from the Tigers saw centre-cum-winger Keith Lulia break their duck in the 57th minute, while Nofoaluma crashed over on the opposite flank with his customary flamboyant finish in a bid to add a further modicum of respectability to the final scoreline.
However home ground favourite Stewart, and returning Maroons halfback Cherry-Evans ensured the Tigers’ efforts were in vain as they ran in late tries in the final four minutes of play to inflict their heaviest defeat of the Tigers, trumping their previous best effort, a 34-4 drubbing back in 2007.
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 40 (P Hiku 2, K Foran 2, C Gutherson, B Stewart, D Cherry-Evans tries; J Lyon 6 goals) defeated Wests Tigers 8 (K Lulia, D Nofoaluma tries) at Brookvale Oval. Crowd: 13,432