Sea Eagles v Sharks: Five key points
Brett Stewart's return inspires Manly to yet another win over the Sharks at Brookvale, but the 10-point win could come at a cost with Martin Taupau on report for a high shot on Jack Bird.
Sharks stung by Snake
After missing the first two games of the season through injury, Brett Stewart returned to Brookvale Oval to spark Manly to its first win of the year.
The prolific fullback looked at ease at the back for the Sea Eagles, scoring a second-half try and regularly creating space for his outside backs.
Rookie coach Trent Barrett praised his No.1, saying his presence was crucial to the side's success.
"It was huge, mainly for his leadership and his talk," Barrett said.
"He wasn't 100 per cent tonight, but I think the try that he scored over in that right hand corner and just his talk [showed how important he was].
"Tom did a fantastic job in the first two weeks. I think the longer we have Snake on the field for the more we're going to win. He's a special player and he's pretty important to our group."
Having filled in for Stewart at the back for the first fortnight, Tom Trbojevic says it was awesome to have his experienced teammate return, and was thrilled to see him extend his incredible tally to 87 tries from 95 games at the venue.
"You know what he wants from you and you'll back him up because he's done so much for this club and he's done so much for the game. His talk and leadership are his best attributes," Trbojevic said.
Bird's injury changes complexion of the game
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan was clearly disappointed in Martin Taupau's 32nd minute high shot on Jack Bird, which saw the star Cronulla centre forced from the field.
Bird was ruled out for the rest of the game after failing a concussion test, but Flanagan says he should be fine to play the Storm next week.
"He'll be OK. He said he wanted to go back on, typical Jack. But our medical team decided he shouldn't go back on," Flanagan said.
"It got him. I know he's fallen and he's probably mistimed his tackle, but he couldn't come back. We lost a player. The judiciary will look after that."
Flanagan says the loss of one of his strike weapons on the edge hurt his side, but admitted his team had enough chances to win the game without him.
"You lose any player, especially someone with Jack's ability to break tackles - and he was playing pretty well before he went off - I think it did have an impact on our side.
"We were probably pretty lucky that I carried Gerard Beale, so there wasn't too much disruption to the team."
Manly coach Trent Barrett admitted he was nervous for his star forward, but says he'll need to see a few more replays before he can comment.
"He's been terrific for us these last three games. I only saw it once. It's on report so we'll just wait and see what comes of it tomorrow."
Sibling rivalry spurs on the Trbojevic brothers
They're not ready to replace the Stewarts as the new brothers on the block at Brookvale Oval, but the Trbojevic boys are certainly on the right track.
Tom was terrific in his first game back on the wing, running for 200 metres, scoring a try, and showing off his soccer skills to set up Brett Stewart for a try.
Meanwhile, Jake was at his brilliant best, coming up with 46 tackles, and scoring his first try of the season in an 80-minute performance at lock.
While Tom was thrilled to see his older brother play so well, he wasn't overly impressed with having to play second fiddle on the scoreboard.
"Yeah I'm not too sure I'm too happy with him scoring a try before me. It hurts a little bit," Tom joked.
"It's good for him. He played well tonight and to get a try really sealed his performance."
Sharks continue their struggles at Brookie
The Sharks have now won just five of their 39 matches at Brookvale Oval, but their coach doesn't think their woeful record played any part in Monday night's loss.
Shane Flanagan says his team was able to ignore all the media hype surrounding their history in Manly, telling reporters his squad wasn't overawed by the occasion.
"These young blokes don't look into that. We haven't won out here for a while. It is a tough place to play," he said.
"But as I said, we didn't talk about it all week. There was a lot of media about it but we didn't talk about too much.
"We've got some players that don't look too far ahead. Jack and Val (winger Valentine Holmes) have played one year in first grade so we can't be lumbering all them with those problems. They came here with a fresh attitudes and it's just another ground to them."
Barrett gets the monkey of his back
The hardest win is always the first, and after two defeats to start the season, Trent Barrett got to taste victory for the first time as an NRL coach.
Barrett admitted he was a bit nervous after starting his career 0-2, but credited the efforts his players for getting the job done in tough conditions against a strong Cronulla side.
"Bit of relief there. Always great to get that first win," Barrett said.
"I'm just really happy for the players. They've worked extremely hard, not just over the first two weeks, but over the past three months."
The win was even sweeter for the Manly coach given his side didn't touch the ball for the first 10 minutes of Monday's match.
"We had our backs against the wall again tonight. I don't think we touched the ball for the first 10 minutes but they just hung in and got a result. I'm really proud of them," he said.
"We've been in that position before, but it was just saving that one more try and they did it. At 8-0 if they skip out to 14 then you're chasing your tail again. But we worked really hard on our defence, and as a team, that's the best we've defended for three weeks.
"I'll sleep better tonight. It's been a rough couple of weeks. I guess I found about it all early, so if we do get back-to-back losses down the track I'll be prepared for it. I knew it had come good on the back of how hard they've worked."