The St. George Illawarra Dragons have thumped the Manly Sea Eagles in a crazy game at WIN Stadium winning 52-22.
WIDDOP DOMINATES FIRST HALF
The Dragons looked very dominant and done for the day with an impressive first half performance. The home side went into the break with a clinical 30-0 half time score, five eighth Gareth Widdop controlled the game from the beginning peppering the Manly goal line defence. Through cross field pin-point kicks Widdop had the Sea Eagle wingers nervous and conceding tries to winger Jason Nightingale and centre Tim Lafai in the opening 15 minutes. An error from the opposition captain handed Widdop with a brilliant intercept to run 70 metres and score, soon after he went to the air with another kick to his right side edge in which winger Nene Macdonald leapt over to pass the ball back for his inside centre Euan Aitken to score. Just before the half was dusted the Dragons captain placed an incredible 40/20 and in that set to follow added another try assist with a short ball to forward Jacob Host.
MANLY SINBIN MOTIVATES
After the half the Manly side was desperate to change their fortunes being 30 points down, however after scoring their opening try a boil over from forward Darcy Lussick punching out at opposition lock Jack De Belin had him being sent to the sideline. What came after many would never see coming, the Sea Eagles rallied and went in for 3 unanswered tries to make the score 30-22.The Manly team looked passionate and fired up after their teammate left the field with Jake Trbojevic crashing over lazy defence as well as debutant Joey Lussick scooting out of marker to score and winger Akuila Uate rising above from a Daly Cherry-Evans bomb to keep their hopes alive.
DREAM DEBUT FOR DUFTY
A late withdrawal by Dragons fullback Josh Dugan, coach McGregor decided to debut a young sensation Matt Dufty. Coming through the ranks of the Dragons system Dufty was waiting for his chance to start in first grade, having played fullback in the lower grades it was a huge test for him coming up against lethal opposition. The debutant was courageous and was getting involved in the game as much as possible, chiming in from late offloads as well as getting early ball to puzzle the Manly defence with his stepping and immense speed. Dufty ended the match with two try assists and line breaks while running 194 metres but the icing on the cake was when he stepped from the left edge to rush through the middle breaking through the defence to use his blinding speed to put the ball down for a try in the last minute of the match.
INTENTIONALLY RESTING PLAYERS
Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett decided to rest his five eighth Blake Green and starting prop Brenton Lawrence before the match. The Manly side going into this game was already hurting with injuries to hooker Api Koroisau and Matthew Wright not being able to play, and with the Sea Eagles playing top sides Storm and Roosters in the next two weeks opted to rest more players with minor niggling injuries. No doubt the news of Cameron Smith and Billy Slater the night before getting injured in their match would have prompted Barrett to rest more, having his side fresh and full strength against injury affected top 4 sides. Having lost to dragons they will hope that call pays off winning both those two games in the next 2 rounds.
St. George Illawarra Dragons 52
Tries: Nightingale (2), Lafai, Widdop, Aitken(2), Host, Vaughan, Dufty
Goals: Widdop 8/9
Manly Sea Eagles 22
Tries: Walker, J.Lussick, J.Trbojevic, Uate
Goals: Cherry-Evans 2/2 Hastings 1/2