When Manly coach Des Hasler offered to rest Tom Trbojevic during Saturday's record 66-0 defeat, the answer from the superstar fullback was an emphatic "no".
"I am just having fun out there and want to keep scoring tries," Trbojevic said after his sixth career hat-trick, which includes four for the Sea Eagles and two with NSW.
Trbojevic and winger Jason Saab scored three tries apiece, while Reuben Garrick equalled Manly’s record for the most points in a match as the Sea Eagles piled on 50 points or more for the third consecutive week.
It is a feat achieved only by the 1935 Roosters, 2001 Eels and 2003 Bulldogs teams but despite Manly scoring 110 unanswered points in their past 120 minutes of NRL action, Hasler said Melbourne and Penrith remained the benchmark.
Match: Bulldogs v Sea Eagles
Round 16 -
Venue: CommBank Stadium, Sydney
The victory was the second biggest of the NRL era after Parramatta’s 70-0 triumph against Cronulla in 2003 and the sixth biggest in premiership history, while Canterbury’s loss was their worst since 1935.
“I think you have got to keep it in context," Hasler said in reference to the 13 players missing for the Bulldogs, who are at the bottom of the Telstra Premiership ladder.
"It is about positioning ourselves. You want to think not only about the win today but also trying to work on for and against and it gives us a run at the top four."
Saab unleashed and Turbo looms up inside to score
However, Trbojevic said the players weren't thinking about for-and-against on the field as they raced in 11 tries to enable Garrick to equal the 30-point hauls of Ron Rowles (1954) and Matthew Ridge (1996) with 11 conversions and two tries.
“We have still got a long way to go in the year but it obviously helps," Trbojevic said. "But you are not really thinking about it. We just wanted to keep them to zero, which is pleasing. And you just want to score tries."
Trbojevic could have had four tries but he passed to brother Ben over the Bulldogs line for what would have been the first try of his NRL career - only for it to be disallowed due to an obstruction at the other end of the field.
The rout started when Trbojevic put Garrick over in just the sixth minute following back-to-back penalties and the Blues star scored himself nine minutes later after halfback Cherry-Evans combined with centre Morgan Harper and Saab.
Manly then went into overdrive, with Trbojevic and interchange forward Toafofoa Sipley each scoring two tries in a 10-minute period before halftime as the Sea Eagles' lead blew out to 36-0.
Saab jets down the sideline for another Manly try
One incident that summed up the difference between the two teams was when Bulldogs debutant Falakiko Manu threw a loose pass near the Sea Eagles line and despite Canterbury players being closest to the ball Cherry-Evans dived on it first.
“I thought Cherry-Evans was really good today and he pulled them apart," Hasler said of the Sea Eagles and Maroons captain.
"He came up with some really good passes, he came up with reads of the game and he came up with some really good execution."
Karl Lawton, who had a try disallowed in the first half, was finally rewarded in the 51st minute and the floodgates opened again after Will Hopoate was sin-binned for holding back Trbojevic as he appeared set to score another try.
Well scored and well bowled by Garrick
Garrick scored in the 59th minute before Saab grabbed three consecutive tries in the 65th, 70th and 75th minutes as Manly surpassed their biggest winning margin.
Trbojevic ended up running for 208 metres but was surpassed by Saab with 283.
“He is just a competitor and that is the way he plays," Hasler said of Trbojevic. "He wasn’t coming off. I just said 'how are you travelling' but they have got a week-and-a-half before Origin.
“I thought there were other parts of the game today that provided a platform for him to display his skills."