Manly's captain and coach have refused to blame the absence of most of the club's prop forwards for a disappointing 38-18 loss at home to the Rabbitohs on Saturday.
Manly lost props Martin Taupau and Addin Fonua-Blake to suspension for shoulder charges committed in last week's loss to the Eels while Lloyd Perrett (fractured eye socket) joined Darcy Lussick (wrist) on the injured list.
It left just Nate Myles and Brenton Lawrence as the last prop forwards left standing at the club and it was always going to make for a challenge against a big and physical Souths pack.
The result keeps Manly winless after two games – both at home – but neither coach Trent Barrett nor captain Daly Cherry-Evans was prepared to blame the absence of big men for the result.
"We did [miss them] but that was no secret that was going to be a challenge but I thought Nate Myles and 'BJ' (Lawrence) and our middles that we had did a good job," Barrett said after the game.
"That probably wasn't our problem to be honest. We started really well and to get back to 18-all after we had a few things go against us was good but some of our decisions when we were under fatigue and under the pump weren't good enough.
"It hurts when you miss those blokes but we knew they were missing, it didn't sneak up on us."
Simple defensive errors that cost the Sea Eagles, according to Barrett.
"To score four tries should be enough to win you a game, that's the most disappointing thing," he said.
"Last week probably the highlight of our game last week was our edge defence, tonight it wasn't."
Cherry-Evans was even more emphatic, while also denying fatigue from all the tackling in last week's 40 per cent possession count was a factor.
"I genuinely believe we had 17 players that could have won that game today," Cherry-Evans said.
"I think it was pretty evident in certain parts of that game there was a chance for us to win it. As understrength as we were that's also not an excuse, we should have won today."
It looked like that would be the case early as the home team raced in three tries within 13 minutes but the remaining 67 minutes of the game saw a 38-6 scoreline against, with Manly's fringes proving particularly flimsy as the likes of Cody Walker, George Jennings and John Sutton ran amok.
"It's only Round 2. We're feeling really good physically. Unfortunately we can't use [fatigue] as an excuse today," Cherry-Evans said.
"Like Trent alluded to, defensively last week that was our biggest strength. Today it was our biggest weakness. Four tries is enough to win a first grade game more often than not so it was disappointing to see us let in so many."