Manly trample sorry Sharks
Daly Cherry-Evans has exacted a modicum of revenge for Queensland's Origin defeat, leading a side in maroon to victory over a sky-blue clad foe in Manly's 26-0 defeat of the Sharks, consigning the home side to a record third consecutive game without troubling the scorers.
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Two tries in the space of as many minutes to reserve forward Tom Symonds, whose touchdowns came with his first two touches of the ball, lit up a dominant second-half showing from Cherry-Evans, who put both four pointers on a platter for the popular rust-haired back-rower in the 54th and 56th minutes, while Jamie Lyon's personal tally of 10 points from a try and 3 goals pushed him past club legend Matthew Ridge's 1095 points in the maroon and white to sit third on the Sea Eagle's all-time point scoring ledger.
For the Sharks, who entered the match on a four game losing streak, the defeat all but switches off the life support for their flailing finals hopes, and their failure to post a single point in 269 minutes of football makes them the first side to be held to nil three matches in a row for the first time in the game's 106-year history.
It took just four minutes for the Sea Eagles to crack open the Sharks eggshell-thin right side defence, with Stewart sliding through the grasp of Cronulla centre Blake Ayshford before finding Justin Horo on the inside for the big man's second try of the year.
The Sharks held their own over the opening quarter of play, consistently working their way into Manly territory, but Manly were not to be denied when they came knocking again down Cronulla's right edge, with Ayshford badly exposed by opposite number Matai in the 19th minute, who crashed through the former Tiger's toothless attempt at a tackle to push the Sea Eagles' lead to 12.
Just for something different Manly went right for the same result, with Daly Cherry-Evans getting in on the act, spinning his way through the defence before feeding his skipper for a try in the 31st minute, though with Lyon's attempt at conversion being waved away the margin remained at 16-0.
Cronulla played every bit like a side that hadn't scored a point in over a month, unable to take a trick despite working their way into prime attacking real estate on more than the odd occasion only to make four errors in Manly's 20 metre zone across the opening 40 minutes.
And a contentious no-try ruling against winger Sosaia Feki in the final sixty seconds of the half, with video referee Matt Cecchin ruling the Kiwi had failed to regather in planting the ball inches inside the touch-in-goal line, consigned Cronulla to a fifth half of football without troubling the scorers.
A 46th minute high shot on runaway Sharks fullback Nathan Gardner landed Manly's Kieran Foran on report, and Cronulla prop-cum-hooker Tinirau Arona burrowed over from dummy-half from the ensuing set, only to again be denied by the video referees, who could not find sufficient evidence to overturn Gavin Morris's original no-try ruling.
Cherry-Evans resumed regular proceedings 10 minutes later, laying on Symonds' first with a simple ball at the line, before Lyon chipped sublimely for a flying Stewart just 80 seconds later. Stewart then linked with Symonds to give the former Rooster his second try of the year.
The Sharks continued to press late in the match still searching for those elusive points, but were repeatedly denied through a combination of stout Manly defence and a comedy of errors in attack as plenty of the 13,383 fans chose to make an early exit rather than watch their side try to crack the try line in vain.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 26 (T Symonds 2, J Horo, S Matai, J Lyon tries; J Lyon 3 goals) defeated Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 0 at Remondis Stadium. Crowd: 13,383.