In-form Manly too good for Cowboys - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

In-form Manly too good for Cowboys

Ian McCullough 12/06/2011 07:52:56 AM Comments (0)

Manly enhanced their credentials as genuine NRL premiership contenders, easing past North Queensland 24-4 in Saturday's NRL clash.

The victory moved Des Hasler's side into second spot on the ladder as they chalked up a fifth successive victory at a sodden Brookvale Oval.

Two tries from Brett Stewart maintained his brilliant record on home soil, taking his tally to a remarkable 57 in 58 games with George Rose and Steve Matai also going over for the hosts.

The Cowboys, who started the game in fourth spot, again struggled in attack without co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott, who were absent due to Queensland State of Origin commitments.

Their record without Thurston makes sorry reading, with just seven wins from the 26 games the Test halfback has not been involved in since 2005.

Manly, who were without NSW stars Anthony Watmough and Will Hopoate, came racing out of the blocks, with Matai almost scoring from the opening set after a sweeping move.

Stewart broke the deadlock in the third minute, latching onto a deliciously-weighted kick from Daly Cherry-Evans and big George Rose then bulldozed his way over for his second four-pointer in as many games.

The Cowboys failed to make inroads in attack in the opening quarter-of-an-hour as they battled to hold off a marauding home side.

In addition to looking sharp in attack, Manly showed great resilience in defence as the visitors pressed for the line in the latter stages of the opening period with Dallas Johnson, Glenn Hall and Kalifa Faifai Loa all being denied.

The second stanza followed a similar pattern to the first with the Sea Eagles going over less than two minutes after the restart through Matai following Ashley Graham's fumble on the second tackle deep inside his own half.

In addition to conceding the try, the Cowboys also lost Antonio Winterstein who became the latest victim of a torn pectoral muscle as he tried to thwart the big Kiwi centre.

Graham atoned for his earlier error in the 59th minute, brushing past a poor tackle from Michael Oldfield to score the visitors' first points of the game.

However, Manly responded well soon after when Stewart added his second of the night, following a smart chip-kick by Kieran Foran with Jamie Lyon adding the extras with his fourth successful kick of the game.

Former Sea Eagle Glenn Hall's return to Brookvale saw him placed on report in the second half for a swinging arm across the face of Glenn Stewart.

Hasler was delighted with the manner in which his side defended their line and was full of praise for the performance on his youthful halves Cherry-Evans and Foran.

"Conditions were testing, we wanted to start both halves quickly, we achieved that," Hasler said.

"We just ground away and were able to score some good tries and defend particularly well, I thought the way we defended our tryline was admirable.

"The halves are going pretty well at the moment, it is more experience for them, they did as well as they possibly can and the platform our bigger men are giving them makes the go-forward possible."

Cowboys coach Neil Henry said he felt his side were the victims of some inconsistent refereeing, claiming Matai knocked on for the opening try, but praised the way Manly dealt with the wet conditions.

"Overall I think it was a lesson for how to work the ruck. I think they've got it down pat, a lot of hands, a lot of knees in and around the ruck and it was very slow, you could go to sleep there I reckon with some of those play the balls so it certainly nullified our momentum," Henry said

"I don't think Matai looked like he knocked it on, I think he did knock it on, so there you go, play on.

"You get some and you don't get some. Glenn Hall gets clipped high in tackle and it's (ruled) falling into the tackle and he clips (Glenn) Stewart high and it's a penalty and (he was) placed on report ... anyway you get those inconsistencies sometimes."

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