AT times it was like a training run but ultimately Manly returned to the Telstra Premiership top four following a comprehensive 50-10 victory over the Parramatta at Brookvale Oval tonight.
Parramatta prop forward Mitchell Allgood was sinbinned in the 74th minute after attacking the head of Jamie Buhrer with a swinging arm. With Manly centre Steve Matai confronting Allgood, the prop forward inexplicably saw red and threw a punch which sparked an ugly melee.
The home side's victory was set up with a scintillating opening 20 minute period where they took advantage of a glut of possession to score three unanswered tries.
The early signs were ominous for the visitors with Manly winger David Williams opening the scoring after just three minutes of play with the home side's first foray into Parramatta territory. Halves Daly Cherry-Evans and Kieran Foran combined to shift the ball from sideline to sideline with centre Jamie Lyon throwing the final pass after the ball was originally knocked down.
Brett Stewart added to his tryscoring season tally in the 9th minute after running a straight line off halfback Cherry-Evans and the home side were keeping pace with the clock.
Sea Eagles winger Jorge Taufua crossed for a double in the leadup to halftime, ensuring the news of him being overlooked for New South Wales in the State of Origin decider didn't affect his club performance.
The first try came off the back of a scrum with Jamie Lyon slotting into five-eighth before throwing a cut-out pass to Brett Stewart who got on the outside of his man before throwing a perfectly timed pass to his winger who crossed untouched. Ten minutes later Taufua was in again with a play down the left side reminiscent of his first try.
The Eels picked up a scrappy try in the 35th minute through Peni Terepo after some enterprising play by centre Jacob Loko who raced down the sideline before he threw a speculative pass back on the inside. Despite several Manly players retreating in defence they couldn't pick up the rolling ball with Reni Maitua passing to the interchange forward to dive over alongside the posts.
Stewart was replaced by Tom Symonds who then extended the lead minutes after getting on the field when he ran a good line in between the Eels defence before Cherry-Evans threw a perfectly timed pass around the back of Reni Maitua to enable Symonds to score.
Young Parramatta winger Brayden Wiliame pulled one try back for the visitors in the 57th minute after halfback Chris Sandow put his side in perfect field position following a slicing run where he left several Manly defenders behind. His perfect cut-out pass found the winger who crossed in the corner.
The game fell into a scrappy affair for the final 20 minutes with Jamie Buhrer adding his name to the scoresheet in the 69th minute after Brett Stewart filled the playmaking role and delivered a deft pass to his interchange forward who speared through a yawning hole in the Eels defence.
Three further tries to the home side wrapped up the scoring with the Eels slumping to a comprehensive 40-point loss.
Next week the Parramatta side host Penrith next Saturday while the Eagles travel to Townsville next Monday.