Sea Eagles v Knights: Five key points

Manly finally hit the ground running, the Knights lose five straight, while Brett Stewart entered the record books, here are five things we learnt from Manly's clash with Newcastle at Brookvale Oval.

Manly's attack finally clicks into gear

"I can officially say we're on a roll now," Manly coach Geoff Toovey said with a beaming smile to begin his post-match press conference. 

And he should be happy after his team put in an impressive attacking performance against a Newcastle Knights defence that was hailed as the best defensive outfit in the competition over the first four rounds.

Manly had an imposing 90 per cent completion rate through the first half, 81 per cent by game's end to go with seven line-breaks.

Despite the absence of key playmaker Kieran Foran the Sea Eagles still had too much quality in key positions.

"Their class players were the difference today for sure," Knights coach Rick Stone said.

"Particularly [Daly] Cherry-Evans and [Brett] Stewart made us pay."

The Knights are in free fall

After four straight wins to start the 2015 season as the surprise packets of the NRL Telstra Premiership the Newcastle Knights are now struggling having lost their last five straight.

"I've been in a lot worse than this," Knights captain Kurt Gidley said. "This is a tough one because we started the year well but the only thing we can do is hard work and more homework and more reviews on your own game and your team's game.

"There's only one way out of it, it's about rolling up your sleeves and concentrating a bit harder with your defence."

Coach Stone added his worry that some key areas in defence aren't being fixed.

"It is getting frustrating because the last two weeks we've seen the same consistent common denominators come up with our defensive resolve," he said.

Blake Leary ready to step up

Anyone who has watched Blake Leary play for the Northern Pride knows that Leary is a star at Queensland Cup level.

But that might not be for much longer, with Leary asserting himself in the game's top flight on Sunday afternoon. 

The young backrower, who was named to cover Foran at five-eighth, was excellent against the Knights, running the ball 20 times for 188 metres, making 40 tackles and brilliantly setting up Daly Cherry-Evans for a try with a nice offload near the line.

 

Tyrone Roberts needs a playmaking partner

Both sides came into Sunday afternoon's match without a key playmaker.

The difference in the end result was how the team's managed to adapt to that loss.

While Cherry-Evans starred up for Manly, Roberts struggled to generate attacking opportunities for his team, and looked out of his depth at times and failing to set up a linebreak or try.

"We couldn't quite put the polish on the end of our sets or get the ball over the line," Rick Stone said.

However Roberts isn't solely to blame for that, while Cherry-Evans benefited from the support of Brett Stewart, Jamie Lyon and Tom Symonds, Roberts had little help.

Knights fans will be hoping Jarrod Mullen's injury isn't too severe.

"He's seeing the specialist tomorrow and then we'll be making some educated decisions as to what our best team is," Stone said.

Brett Stewart joins elite company

Brett Stewart became just the 10th player in the history of the game to score 150 NRL tries. His double helped Manly to an important win and edged him closer to Steve Menzies' club record.

The man dubbed 'the Prince of Brookvale' has been the backbone of Manly's golden era and they are a much better team when he is fit and directing traffic from the back of the field.

While he might have lost a fraction of pace, he still showed plenty in scoring both of his tries. First he won the chase for a kick into the in-goal and second he managed to get outside his man and through a gap to score untouched. If Manly can start getting their players back, they'll have opposition teams nervous.