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Manly suffered a setback after just six minutes when Steve Matai was forced from the field.
Manly coach Geoff Toovey has hit out at the referees’ ruck interpretation following his side’s 23-4 loss to South Sydney at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday night, saying Souths were allowed too much leeway to slow the game down.

"I thought they just wrestled the crap out of us in the first half and slowed the game right down, which suited them obviously," Toovey said after the game.

"I know they’re a big side but I’m more concerned by the way we were slowed down tonight. I thought personally yes [there was some inconsistency with the ruck interpretation]."

He also said his side wasn’t helped by the loss of centre Steve Matai after just six minutes with an injury that may have come as a result of Souths’ wrestling tactics.

He said he would have to have another look at the replay but that Matai was of the opinion the position he was put into in the wrestling tackle contributed to the injury.

"I don’t know what the role of the touch judge is anymore – they don’t worry about the 10, they don’t worry about offside on kicks. I don’t know," he said.

However he was also quick to pay tribute to the winning side, saying they were clearly the better side on the night.

"They were just better than us tonight, we were a bit down," he said.

Both his own side’s poor execution – they completed just less than 70 per cent of their sets – and pressure from Souths contributed to the final margin.

"I thought they played well. They were allowed to play the game they had, slowing us down. They were good. We were 60-something per cent completions which is just not good enough against a quality side like Souths. They just wore us down at the end. We had an opportunity early in the second half to get close, we didn’t take that opportunity and they just ran away with it."

Manly captain Jamie Lyon said once Souths got a roll on, his side wasn’t able to stop them towards the end of the game.

"We had a couple of opportunities we didn’t take. I suppose you’ve got to do that in the big games against top quality opposition. We’ll learn from it," Lyon said.

"I think they’re a very good side, ask a lot of questions, they’re big up the middle, Issac Luke out of dummy half. They’re a good side and they’re going to be thereabouts in the semis."
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