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The Manly Sea Eagles have gone to the top of the NRL ladder with a comprehensive 34-6 victory over the Cronulla Sharks tonight.
Played in from 18,217 fans at a chilly Toyota Stadium, the match was dominated by Manly in the first half, the visitors commanding 75% of the possession in the opening 20 minutes.
Scoring at an average of a point of a minute, Manly raced away to unassailable 22-0 lead after just 22 minutes of play. The Sharks were able to hit back just before the break to make it 22-6, but that would be the only time the home side would trouble the scoreboard attendants.
Cronulla came out firing in the second half on the back of more possession. But the Manly dominance continued with some entertaining defensive displays close to their line, and the Sharks often proving to be their own worst enemy, turning over the ball at crucial times as they struggled to complete their sets.
Two more tries to the Sea Eagles mid way through the second half, including a second four-pointer to forward Glenn Stewart, put the match beyond doubt.
Match Details Manly Sea Eagles 34 def Cronulla Sharks 6 Round 18 - Saturday July 12th, 2008 7:30pm Venue: Toyota Stadium Referee: Jason Robinson Touch Judges: Phil Haines, Russell Turner Video Referee: Phil Cooley Half time: Sea Eagles 22-6 Crowd: 18,217
Cronulla Sharks 6 Tries: Paul Gallen Goals: Luke Covell (1/1) Manly Sea Eagles 34 Tries: Matt Ballin, Josh Perry, Brett Stewart, Glenn Stewart (2), Michael Robertson Goals: Matt Orford (3/4), Jamie Lyon (2/2)
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SHARKS: 1. Brett Kearney 2. Misi Taulapapa 3. Ben Pomeroy 4. David Simmons 5. Luke Covell 6. Brett Seymour 7. Brett Kimmorley 8. Ben Ross 9. Isaac De Gois 10. Luke Douglas 11. Grant Millington 12. Fraser Anderson 13. Paul Gallen Interchange: 14. Danny Nutley 15. Kade Snowden 16. Adam Peek 17. Blake Green SEA EAGLES: 1. Brett Stewart 2. Michael Robertson 3. Steve Bell 4. Steve Matai 5. David Williams 6. Jamie Lyon 7. Matt Orford (c) 8. Brent Kite 9. Matt Ballin 10. Josh Perry 11. Anthony Watmough 12. Glenn Stewart 13. Steve Menzies Interchange: 14. Heath L'Estrange 15. Mark Bryant 16. Adam Cuthbertson 17. Glenn Hall
Teams tonight competing for the Steve Rogers Memorial Trophy
First half underway in this top of the table clash!
5 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles Sea Eagles draw first blood through Matt Ballin. Conversion attempt by Matt Orford from almost in front is successful. Manly Sea Eagles 6-0
12 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles Forward Josh Perry crashes over 10m wide of the posts despite the attention of several defenders. Conversion attempt by Orford successful. Manly Sea Eagles 12-0
18 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles Brett Stewart scores in the corner off the back of a backline movement. Conversion attempt by Orford well wide of the mark. Manly dominating with 75% possession. Manly Sea Eagles 16-0
22 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles Glenn Stewart has a strong run from 15m out and then steps through some soft defence to score under the posts. Conversion attempt by Orford successful. Manly Sea Eagles 22-0
27 min: Sharks finally get some possession with a flow of penalties and are on the attack. But good scrambling defence from the Sea Eagles sees Luke Covell is forced into touch out wide.
35 min: Sharks have got a little more ball and managed to shut the floodgates, but possession still favouring Manly by over 60%.
39 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Paul Gallen crashes over out wide and improves his position to score 10m in from touch. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell successful. Manly Sea Eagles 22-6
Half time: Sea Eagles 22-6 A try right on the stroke of half time gives the home side some confidence but overall the Sea Eagles have dominated the first half. Sharks making too many errors defending poorly at times, and are generally struggling for metres when they have the ball. Manly on the other hand have put together a near perfect 40 minutes. Possession favouring Manly by 62%. Penalties favouring Sharks 6-4.
Second half underway...
44 min: Sea Eagles coming up quickly and the Sharks going backwards at times.
46 min: Video ref looking at possible TRY to Sharks. Verdict... NO TRY. Sharks full back Brett Kearney knocking on in the lead up.
50 min: Sharks hooker Isaac De Gois a bit groggy after a heavy tackle.
53 min: Video ref looking at possible TRY to Sea Eagles. Verdict...
53 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles Winger Michael Robertson scoring out wide after centre Steve Matai puts in a grubber kick from 20m out. Robertson given the green light following video ref scrutiny over offside and the challenge for the ball with Sharks winger Misi Taulapapa. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon from out wide is successful. Manly Sea Eagles 28-6
60 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles Glenn Stewart gets a double, on the burst from 10m out and crashing past some ordinary defence. Set up by Jamie Lyon. Follows another handover with Sharks handling errors mounting up. Conversion attempt 15m wide of the posts by Lyon successful. Manly Sea Eagles 34-6
65 min: INJURIES - Orford is off injured with a corked thigh, the ice is out and he won't return. Matai goes to the sideline to treated but is able to come back on, limping slightly.
71 min: Sharks with a few opportunities but Sea Eagle too good on the line. Plenty of desperate defence with a few standout efforts.
76 min: Final stages now much the same with Sharks trying hard but lacking attacking options and simply unable to crack the Manly defence.
Full time: Sea Eagles 34-6 Comprehensive victory and polished performance, the Sea Eagles going to the top of the NRL ladder and firming as premiership favourites. Plenty of standouts across the park for the visitors with back rower Glenn Stewart getting the LeagueUnlimited.com man of the match. At full time, possession favoured the Sea Eagles 55%, penalties favoured Sharks 11-6.