Manly has snapped a five game losing streak to thump the Brisbane Broncos by 38-24 in easily the Sea Eagles best game so far in 2018.
After a very tough start to the season on and off the field, tonight's victory will finally have coach Trent Barrett laughing rather than crying with his side's tidy performance over an out of sorts Broncos side.
Manly stars Daly Cherry-Evans, Api Koroisau and the Trbojevic brothers were outstanding in the six try demolition, with Jake Trbojevic and Joel Thompson both crossing for doubles in a win which helps lift the Eagles off the foot of the ladder.
Blues incumbent Jake Trbojevic stamped his Blues ticket for State of Origin I, by not only scoring two tries, but also running for over 180m off 19 runs and making a team high 44 tackles in an ironman performance from the Sea Eagles lock. Hooker Api Koroisau also did his NSW selection chances no harm with a crucial try just after halftime to kick start a devastating second half from the Eagles, who scored the most points at Suncorp Stadium for the club since 1996.
Brisbane's loss was further compounded with injuries to second rower Alex Glenn and giant rookie Payne Haas, which may see both spend some time on the sidelines alongside representative stars Matt Gillett and Josh McGuire who are also on a heavy injury list for coach Wayne Bennett. The timing of the potential Glenn and Haas injuries has come at a terrible time, just as Brisbane are sliding out of the Top 8 prior to the commencement of the State of Origin period in just three weeks time.
Manly came into the match under tremendous pressure, with their ‘home' game at Suncorp Stadium coming at the worst possible time, with the Sea Eagles staring down the barrel of five consecutive losses.
The Eagles got off to a perfect start however, when skipper Daly Cherry-Evans put in an aggressive grubber kick towards the posts, which took a wicked bounce careering off Broncos half Kodi Nikorima and then off the legs of centre Jack Bird. Sea Eagles lock Trbojevic charged onto the loose ball to score under the posts. Cherry-Evans converted and it was 6-0 to the Eagles after just three minutes of play.
The Sea Eagles lock was at it again minutes later when he finessed through the Broncos line and looked to find his younger brother Tom who loomed up in support. The try looked certain but for a terrific read from Broncos skipper Darius Boyd who intercepted the pass, saving a certain four pointer.
Manly then went backwards, giving away a stunning four consecutive penalties, which resulted in the Broncos registering their first points of the night, with hooker Andrew McCullough darting over from dummy half and managing to wrestle the ball to the ground to score and even up the contest.
Cherry-Evans then nudged his team back in front, after McCullough then gave away a penalty off the back of an Alex Glenn error and it was 8-6 after a hectic first 10 minutes.
Brisbane then took the lead off the ‘home' side, when McCullough ducked out of dummy half and provided a superb short ball close to the line for a rampaging Sam Thaiday to score his first try of the season.
The Broncos then peppered the Manly line and were rewarded with a penalty after Jake Trbojevic was penalised for a strip on McCullough and Jamayne Isaako extended the Broncos lead to 14-8.
The Sea Eagles then sprung to life before halftime, with two quick tries to Joel Thompson and a second try to Jake Trbojevic to take a two point lead at halftime.
Manly continued to carry the momentum after the break however, with an early Cherry-Evans penalty, followed by a try to Api Koroisau who caught the marker defence napping off a quick play the ball from Jake Trbojevic.
Manly continued to roll forward, and had a Akuila Uate try disallowed for Brian Kelly taking out a player in the air off a kick, but Kelly turned provider minutes later, sending Uate over for a legitimate four pointer to extend the Eagles lead to 30-14.
Anthony Milford then had the crowd on their feet, when the mercurial five-eighth kept his side in the match after latching onto a Kodi Nikorima chip and chase. Milford collected the kick on the full and then burned away from the defensive line to keep his side's pulse in the contest by narrowing the score line to 30-20 with 15 minutes remaining.
Sea Eagles skipper Cherry-Evans then took the game away, when he cleverly executed a grubber behind the line for Thompson's second try and followed that up with another penalty goal to ice the game for his side.
Jamayne Isaako scored late try to flatter the scoreline for Brisbane, who were comprehensively outgunned by 38-24 in an impressive performance by the Sea Eagles, which has the potential to turn their clunky start to the season.
Manly now face another tough assignment, travelling to Melbourne to play the Storm next Saturday night and will need to continue their marked improvement if they are to collect two points south of the border.
Brisbane will now look to bounce back against the Roosters next Friday in what promises to be an absolute blockbuster at Suncorp Stadium.