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Manly deny they are a one-man team

By Ben Galvin 26/04/2009 12:49:25 PM Comments (0)

Manly captain Matt Orford has rubbished suggestions the Sea Eagles are a one-man team after falling to their fifth loss in as many games this year without star fullback Brett Stewart.

With Stewart sidelined for three months with a knee injury the reigning premiers struggled to convert their tryscoring opportunities as they fell 26-12 to North Queensland at Dairy Farmers Stadium on Saturday night.

It was Manly's fifth loss this year after they dropped their first four games while Stewart was suspended by the NRL for drunken behaviour at the club's season launch.

Manly won both times Stewart has played in 2009, over Wests Tigers and South Sydney, the fullback scoring five tries as the Sea Eagles bounced back to form.

But without the Test and NSW custodian the Sea Eagles blew several tryscoring opportunities, however skipper Matt Orford was adamant Stewart would not have changed the result.

"I don't think Brett would have made a difference tonight I thought Michael Roberston done a great job," Orford said.

"You guys (the media) can beat it up all you want that Manly is gone without Brett Stewart but you are far from being right.

"Our execution was really poor tonight. We done the hard work and got ourselves back in the game and threw it away.

"We need to have a good look at ourselves, we can't just keep giving two points away like that."

As Manly continue to struggle without their fullback, Cowboys No.1 Matt Bowen looks to be returning to his best after missing the majority of 2008 with a knee injury.

Bowen scored two second half tries and combined well with halfback Johnathan Thurston to guide the Cowboys to just their third win of the year.

The 10-time Queensland Origin representative underwent radical knee surgery last year in which cartilage was grown on a matrix before being implanted in his knee.

North Queensland coach Neil Henry believes Bowen is on course to regain his mantle as one of the most exciting attacking weapons in the game.

"He is coming back into some confidence, it is a work in progress for him and I am very happy with how he is going," he said.

"He hasn't played a lot of football and he is getting more confident taking the line on and getting tackled and all the collisions in the game.

"He has got a great pass and he can jump up and be a first receiver which helps JT (Thurston) out with moving the ball around.

"I think people have to fully appreciate where he has come from.

"He has had the surgery that not many people get to do and he finished playing in round six last year he played a few games under duress leading up to that."

Manly prop Jason King faces a nervous wait after being placed on report for a high shot on Cowboys winger Ben Farrar.

Meanwhile North Queensland's Test hopeful Luke O'Donnell could come under scrutiny from the match review committee after unleashing a number of punches on King following the tackle.

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