Manly's run of games where they conceded 20 points or more was extended to eleven today, when they were outclassed by Souths 26-12 in the wet at Brookvale.
Manly's bumbling attack struggled again, but their defence was somewhat improved, helped by the slippery conditions and very sluggish track.
Manly got off to a great start, receiving a repeat set before losing the ball on the first tackle, 10m from Souths line. This was one of many times that Manly turned the ball over in perfect attacking position throughout the opening 40 minutes.
Souths opened the scoring in the 7th minute after they shifted the ball beautifully to the right to Cody Walker, who passed to Latrell Mitchell who tipped it on so smoothly that it looked like he didn't even touch it, onto Alex Johnston who sprinted down the sideline before drawing Dylan Walker and passing back inside to Cody Walker in support who scored. Adam Reynolds failed to convert.
The Bunnies crossed again in the 14th minute when Reynolds, on the left side, noticing that the Manly defence had rushed up off their line, grubbered for Damian Cook, who fell over, but Reynolds followed through and planted his own grubber to score to the left of the posts. He then converted his own try.
Damian Cook looked to have scored in the 25th minute but the bunker ruled that he fell just short of the line.
A minute later Manly were on the attack, when Daly Cherry-Evans grubbered through the line, followed through and kicked it ahead before Latrell Mitchell's elbow brushed the Manly halfback in the hip, which results in him falling over. The bunker was asked to see if a penalty try should be awarded, which they declined to award, but Mitchell was ordered to spend ten minutes in the sin bin for his infringement.
A minute later and Manly finally got points when Lachlan Croker stepped back and to the left from dummy half on the Souths line, dummied a crash ball and then ran himself at the line and crashed over to the right of the sticks. Reuben Garrick converted.
Three minutes before halftime saw Jai Arrow forcing his way across the line but the bunker again ruled no try. Souths weren't going to be denied the next time though, as they scored right on halftime, courtesy of a somewhat opportunistic try. Cody Walker on the left side attempted to grubber into the Manly in-goal, but it hit a Manly defender and ricocheted off Dane Gagai and rolled into the Manly in goal where Mitchell pounced on it to score. Reynolds converted to give Souths a 14-6 lead at the break.
The second half was played in very slippery conditions as the rain started to bucket down during the break.
Souths looked set to score in the opening minute of the second half when a kick deflection by Souths was caught by Jayden Su'A, who then passed to Cody Walker, who dropped the ball. Adam Reynolds came off the field for an HIA.
The 50th minute saw Jason Saab make a break and run 55 metres down field before he was tackled after a great chase by Damian Cook.
Manly narrowed the margin to 2 points in the 59th minute when their big men combined in a smart play. Taniela Paseka received a crash ball while flat footed, 3m from the Souths line, he turned and offloaded the ball to Taupau who fell over the line to the right of the posts for a good try. Garrick converted.
Just a few minutes later, the Bunnies struck back superbly. A line break by Benji Marshall put Graham into space before he was brought down 12m from the Manly. Cook at dummy half double pumped a dummy. The Manly defenders took a big bites on the second pump and Cook strolled over to score a clever try. Mitchell converted from wide on the right side.
With just 5 minutes remaining, Souths put on another try when Souths ran a pet play - close to the line, they sent the ball left to Mitchell whose quickfire draw and pass allowed Alex Johnston to score in the corner untouched. Mitchell converted it from the left sideline.
The match ended with some nonsense scuffling. Jayden Su'A was sin binned for ten minutes with 1 second left on the clock. Latrell Mitchell's attempt to kick a penalty goal just shaved the posts and was waved away.