Manly add steel to NRL title push - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Manly add steel to NRL title push

By Steve Jancetic 24/07/2011 07:07:29 PM Comments (0)

Manly ensured Melbourne weren't the only NRL heavyweight to flex their premiership muscle as they put together a defensive performance against Penrith that coach Des Hasler claimed was the stuff on which finals campaigns are based.

Beaten everywhere but on the scoreboard, the Sea Eagles clawed their way to a 14th win for 2011 with a 12-8 victory over Penrith on Sunday, the impressive win answering the challenge set down by ladder leaders Melbourne with their 26-6 win over Brisbane on Friday night.

Penrith enjoyed 48 sets to the Sea Eagles' 31, made 36 less tackles than the visitors, had 23 missed tackles to Manly's 34 and led the offload count 19-9 - but still they rarely looked like breaching the Manly defensive line.

So confident were the Sea Eagles in keeping the Panthers out that they seemed content to knock the ball dead three straight times as Penrith attacked their line late in the game, the defensive wall having Hasler confident heading to September.

"To play in the finals series you need to come up with defensive efforts like that," said Hasler, whose side was also caned 10-3 in the penalty count.

"They had enough ball to score a lot of points. I've got to give our boys credit for the way they defended.

"On the back of that kind of possession when it goes against you, you're not left with much else to do other than to come up with the sort of defence that they did."

The performance left an impression on the hosts as well, with coach Steve Georgallis hoping his side took something out of the contest as they dropped out of the top eight.

"That was finals football, what they played today," Georgallis said.

"That's a good lesson to the players about that type of football ... how you get into a grind and how you stay in the game.

"Good teams like Manly are going to punish you for it."

The Sea Eagles now have a three-point gap over third-placed St George Illawarra, but the Dragons can close that to one on Monday night when they travel to Canberra looking for their first win in the nation's capital since 2000.

The Warriors kept in touch with the top four as they handed South Sydney a 48-16 flogging at ANZ Stadium, but the magnitude of the win wasn't enough to convince their coach Ivan Cleary that his side deserved to be bracketed with those sides above his on the ladder.

"Certainly last weekend the top sides sort of flexed their muscle and made a statement so it's only natural that everyone would make that comment," Cleary said of claims the top four sides remained the benchmark.

The Warriors do however now have a four point gap on those sides outside the top eight, with Wests Tigers and Newcastle getting the jump on the following pack to sit in seventh and eighth respectively following much-needed wins at the weekend .

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