The Manly Sea Eagles have run out convincing winners over a complacent St George Illawarra Dragons by 21-10 at Brookvale Oval this afternoon.
It was an impressive performance from the Manly side who were languishing in last place on the NRL ladder and expected to go down to the in-form Dragons outfit.
Running into the breeze in the first half, the Sea Eagles matched Saints across the park and at half time, won the points decision with narrow 2-0 lead.
The second half saw Manly lift and following tries to Ian Donnelly and Sam Harris, they never looked back.
Saints finally lifted their intensity late in the match but it was too little, too late with the home side posting a well deserved and well received victory.
SEA EAGLES 21 Tries: Donnelly, Harris, Hicks Goals: Walker 4/4 Field goal: Monaghan defeated DRAGONS 10 Tries: Kite, Simmonds Goals: Riddell 1/2
Brookvale Oval Referee: Steve Lyons Video Referee: Mick Stone. Touch Judges: Allen Foster, Darren Gocher
By the clock: 0 min: Game to get underway soon, the Dragons, despite injuries, go into this match hot favourites. Kickoff!
15 min: Still 0-0 but the Dragons are getting plenty of chances. Possession favours Dragons 58%.
22 min: Still 0-0. A mistake-a-thon with both sides making 4 errors each while on the attack. Dragons 53% possession.
24 min: PENALTY GOAL - Sea Eagles. Andrew Walker right in front. Sea Eagles 2-0
NEWS - Dragons kick out on full (over dead ball line) from re-start.
29 min: NO TRY - Matt Cooper (Dragons) denied after a player who had nothing to with the play was deemed to be offside. Something needs to done about refining this new interpretation of the rules. Follows a kick from Mathew Head which bounced off the posts and back into the field of play.
36 min: Still 2-0 to the Sea Eagles who are now enjoying 52% possession. Its all Manly and Saints will have to work hard to stay in this match.
38 min: NEWS - Tremendous kick from Mathew Head who skirted the sideline. Great chase and Manly are forced into a line drop out. Saints get a penalty in the next set of six and are a chance to score against the run of play.
39 min: Great defence from Manly who are out-muscling the Dragons up front.
HALF TIME: Despite the low scoreline, we're being treated to an entertaining match here today. Some excellent defence from the Sea Eagles who are resisting some sparkling attack from the Dragons. Possession almost dead even with Manly getting the points in the first half. Saints are missing too many tackles and will have to tighten up their defence just wide of the ruck and improve their completion rate. Manly only need to maintain their patience and we could see an upset here today. Standouts for Sea Eagles: Andrew Walker is worrying the defence in almost every set of six. Anthony Watmough putting in a mountain of work up front. Standouts for Dragons. Luke Bailey and Ashton Sims putting a huge work rate while Mathew Head holds the key to any resurgence.
Manly will have a stiff breeze at their backs in the second half.
Second half underway...
41-43 min: NEWS - a loss of possession when Brent Kite (Dragons) had a look at the defence before losing ball. Manly on the attack and close to scoring but are let down by a forward pass and knock-on. In reply, Saints are on the attack and they spill possession as well.
49 min: TRY - Sea Eagles. Ian Donnelly barges over. Follows a 50m penalty kick from Andrew Walker. Conversion Walker almost in front. Sea Eagles 8-0
52 min: NEWS - Mathew Head (Dragons) taken from the field but doesnt look injured. Manly on the attack as try scorer Donnelly makes some rampaging runs.
54 min: TRY - Sea Eagles. Sam Harris scores and Saints look shot to bits. Conversion Walker from the touch line is straight between the posts. Sea Eagles 14-0
60 min: TRY - Dragons. Brent Kite takes pass from Shaun Timmins and scores after Saints get successive penalties. Follows some ordinary discipline from Manly who are looking for a breather. Conversion Mark Riddell. Sea Eagles 14-6
NEWS - Very overcast and dark conditions.
63 min: TRY - Sea Eagles. Chris Hicks flies down right touch line and scores. Conversion from Walker 10m in from touch is successful. Sea Eagles 20-6
66 min: TRY - Dragons. Reece Simmonds scores in the corner. Follows big defensive hit from Dragons back, Ben Creagh. Conversion Riddell a fair shot but misses. Sea Eagles 20-10
72 min: NEWS - Dragons have stepped up a gear and are on the attack, but running out of time.
75 min: NEWS - Manly answer the challenge and hold their line. With only a few minutes remaining, it looks like we're heading for a boilover.
77 min: FIELD GOAL - Sea Eagles. Michael Monaghan. Sea Eagles 21-10
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - A Walker (Sea Eagles) 2 - A Watmough (Sea Eagles) 1 - J Hopoate (Sea Eagles) -----------------------------------------