MANLY SEA EAGLES 54 (Peta Hiku 4, Jamie Lyon, Brenton Lawrence, Anthony Watmough, Brett Stewart, Jorge Taufua tries; Jamie Lyon 7, Steve Matai 2 goals) bt CANBERRA RAIDERS 18 (Reece Robinson, Jarrod Croker, Jack Wighton, Josh McCrone tries; Croker goal) at Brookvale Oval on Sunday. Referees: Jared Maxwell and Chris James. Crowd: 8817.
THE CHERRY-EVANS SHOW
Manly fans were in uproar this week when salary cap pressure forced favourite son Glenn Stewart to sign with South Sydney for the next two seasons. The Sea Eagles are looking to stockpile funds to retain off-contract Daly Cherry-Evans, and the star halfback showed why. Cherry-Evans was directly involved in six of the host's first seven tries, helping it build a 42-0 lead after just 34 minutes. Stewart's day ended early when he left the field with an ankle injury, prompting a burst of sustained applause from the Brookvale faithful. He showed his commitment by returning in the second half, despite the result beyond doubt at 42-4, much to the crowd's delight.
BAD MEMORIES SURFACE FOR STICKY
Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart must have had flashbacks to his ill-fated season with last year’s wooden-spooner Parramatta as Manly carved the Raiders apart in the first half an hour. Canberra's defence has been relatively consistent so far this season, but Manly's dominant right side of Cherry-Evans, Jamie Lyon and the Stewart boys tore it apart at will. At one point the tackle count read 44-3 as Manly made the Raiders pay for errors and poor discipline. Manly's decision to hand five-eighth Jack Littlejohn a debut allowed Jamie Lyon to revert to his favoured right centre position paid off handsomely.
ANOTHER MILESTONE RUINED
Last year it was Josh McCrone's 100th game which was ruined by Canberra's club record 68-4 loss to Melbourne at home. This time it was Glen Buttriss' century party which was crashed by a ruthless Sea Eagles outfit intent on burying its off-field turmoil this week. Stuart said the drama surrounding the Stewart brothers would unite Manly and ensure it was "us against the world". Unfortunately for the Raiders, he was proven correct.
BILL TUPOU IN HOT WATER
He certainly wasn't Robinson Crusoe, particularly on his leaky left edge, but Bill Tupou is surely in danger of missing the trip to play his old side New Zealand in two weeks after he was badly exposed again in defence. Not for the first time this season, Tupou came infield, allowing Peta Hiku to score the first of his hat-trick. Soon after Hiku scored again off a Cherry-Evans grubber behind Tupou. Stuart has two weeks to fix his side's issues due to the representative weekend. He may need every day of it. Canberra has fielded an unchanged 17 for the last three weeks. That is near certain to change for its round 10 trip to New Zealand in a fortnight.
STUART PUTS ONUS ON PLAYERS
Stuart is known for a few memorable sprays, but he didn’t take long to vent his spleen in the dressing sheds at half-time. He threw a few choice words at his players, before storming out and slamming the door, leaving them to mull over how to regain some respect after an embarrassing first half. Canberra has now lost eight of its past nine games against Manly, and five of its past six at Brookvale.