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Manly Sea Eagles keep minds on job to beat Dragons despite off-field dramas

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Sea Eagles outclass Dragons

Manly fly straight to the top of the ladder after defeating the St George-Illawarra Dragons 21-12 at Jubilee Oval on Monday night.

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Manly brushed aside talk of further player discontent to beat St George Illawarra 21-12 at Jubilee Oval on Monday night.

The Sea Eagles surged to the top of the competition ladder as reports emerged that Anthony Watmough and Brett Stewart had joined teammate Steve Matai in requesting a release from the club as the fallout from Glenn Stewart’s end-of-season departure continues.

On the board: Steve Matai crashes over in the 20th minute to open Manly's account.

On the board: Steve Matai crashes over in the 20th minute to open Manly's account. Photo: Getty Images

Time
80.00
Team
STG
Score
12
Team
MAN
Score
21
St George Illawarra versus Manly
View Match Statistics
Players Marshall, Nightingale Tries 2 Tries 4 Players Matai, Foran, Symonds, Taufua
Players Widdop 1/2 (50%) Conversions 1 Conversions 2 Players Lyon 2/4 (50%)
Players Widdop 1/1 (100%) Penalty goals 1 Penalty goals 0 Players Lyon 0/1 (0%)
Players Field goals 0 Field goals 1 Players Cherry-Evans 1/1 (100%)

Manly have already rejected Matai’s plea to join the Warriors on a four-year, $2.5 million deal. Now the club is set to face further adversity, with two of its best players wanting out. Fairfax Media understands that the players are yet to formally request a release. However, it is understood  club officials are aware of the players’ concerns. 

It is unlikely that any of the three players will receive a favourable answer given most clubs have filled their rosters for next year, denying  Manly the  opportunity to replace them. Watmough is contracted until the end of next year while Stewart is signed until 2016. Both are managed by George Mimis.

Stewart’s brother Glenn  – who will join South Sydney – wasn’t offered a new contract, which has caused the unrest from some of the club’s longest serving players. Manly have since re-signed back-rowers Jamie Buhrer and Jesse Sene-Lefao following Stewart’s departure. Halfback Daly Cherry-Evans is off-contract at the end of next year and could command about $1m on the open market.  A decision on their future is expected to be made by coach Geoff Toovey.

By Jorge: Manly Winger Jorge Taufua gets the ball down to score.

By Jorge: Manly Winger Jorge Taufua gets the ball down to score. Photo: Getty Images

Despite their off-field woes, Manly continued to put the adversity behind the,m scoring four tries to two to beat St George Illawarra.

The loss leaves the Paul McGregor coached Dragons  two points outside the  eight.  McGregor is  coaching for his long-term future, with the former St George Illawarra captain the favourite to be appointed the club’s long-term coach following Wayne Bennett’s decision to re-join Brisbane next year.

Stewart and Matai were instrumental early before Matai left the field late in the first half with a knee injury, but the centre returned in the second half, having scored the opening try of the game. Stewart laid on Matai’s first, as the Dragons right hand defensive edge of Josh Dugan and Benji Marshall struggled to contain a rampant Manly side. Manly would focus their attack on their left hand side of the field for the bulk of the game.

The Sea Eagles crossed again through Kieran Foran to open up a 10-2 lead after 23 minutes, before a video referee obstruction call denied them of another try. Marshall celebrated his first four-pointer as a Dragon in the 37th minute to have the home side trailing by two at half-time. The Dragons went close to opening the scoring in the second half when a lunging Jorge Taufua hit the ball out of a diving Jason Nightingale’s reach over the try-line as he tried to capture a Dugan grubber.

A cut out pass from Cherry-Evans laid on a try for Tom Symonds before Stewart exposed the Dragons’ right side defensive edge again to help Taufua extend their lead to 12. 

The Dragons were camped in Manly’s half but struggled to make a dent. Eventually Nightingale scored a try late in the game. 

8 comments so far

  • it will be a shame to lose Stevie Matai, Brett Stewart, Glenn Stewart and Anthony Watmough - or any of them but all good things must come to an end. if this is your last season playing together make it your best one and lift the trophy one more time together - you guys have been great for the club and you will be great wherever you go.

    Commenter
    interested observer
    Location
    sydney
    Date and time
    July 21, 2014, 9:36PM
    • Im a very long term Manly supporter and as far as I'm concerned the players with the rather enlarged heads and egos to match, should be given a firm NO and then shown the door at the end of their contracts. Unfortunately they have the attitude that they to want run and try dictate to their bosses at head office...when in reality, they would know which was the business end of a shovel in the working world.

      Commenter
      Mike
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      July 21, 2014, 9:47PM
      • Agreed Mike. Thankfully those inflated heads are helping with the on field performances at the moment. Worry about next year in October.

        But I guess the reason the current Manly side make their very healthy living from football is their maths is hopeless. The salary cap meant someone big had to go to keep DCE and unfortunately that was Glenn Stewart. Not sure what else the board was supposed to do? Plus the clubs linked to Matai, Whatmough & Co suggests they will go separate ways anyhow.

        Commenter
        Jason
        Date and time
        July 22, 2014, 12:28AM
      • Maybe they have been watching the "Bennett" saga and think that's the way to do business in the NRL where the tail wags the dog a lot.
        Why the Warriors want an aging Matai at such a price is a mystery given the young centres we have coming thru.Foran however would be a great fit for us but I very much doubt that will ever happen.
        Looking forward to a hard high class game this Sunday at Mnt Smart.

        Commenter
        Jacko
        Location
        Warriorville
        Date and time
        July 22, 2014, 8:11AM
    • What do the players think they will achieve by leaving? They won't 'teach the club a lesson'.
      Truth is, if they have asked for a release then it has nothing to do with Glenn Stewart. If they've asked to leave then they want a change. Pure and simple.
      For all of them it's about money. This is a chance to earn a little more than they are worth at a
      late stage in their contract.
      It's too late to replace them for next season so they should honour their contracts, after that they're a free agent.
      It's clear what going on. A large group of players went to the fence after the game and spent 10 minutes with the loyal fans, shaking hands and taking photos. There were a few notable absences ...

      Commenter
      Manly fan
      Date and time
      July 21, 2014, 10:32PM
      • How could the referees give the Kieren Foran try. Even if the ball was touched by the tackler the ball left Matai's right hand and went forward so it was a knock on. The game has been changed to see more tries but that cheapens a try. Contrast this with Uate having the ball punched out while getting up to play the ball being called a loose carry. It's NRL Rugby League the game where you get 2 points for a bye and zero for a draw.

        Commenter
        DragonsRGr8
        Location
        Canberra
        Date and time
        July 22, 2014, 12:49AM
        • Well said, Mike. The club has provided some serious support (as they should) to each of those guys through some difficult times. Loyalty is two-way. Though I do disagree on one point. Let Watmough go at the end of the season. If he wants to leave before the end of a hugely back-ended contract and expects to get from another club even half of the $900k he'll get from Manly next year, then that's his call. It will free up some funds to pay a player that doesn't run sideways and knows how to pass. Back to the Narrabeen Sharkies, Choc.

          Commenter
          Some Old Guy
          Date and time
          July 22, 2014, 6:50AM
          • As a Manly supporter I can understand why the players are not happy.....I still don't understand why Manly didn't at least make an offer to retain Stewart, even if that offer was below expectations. But I would have thought that the core group of players asking for a release seems to contradict the group being tight. I mean, wouldn't they want to play out their careers with each other rather than going separate ways? None of this makes any sense and I'm sure the players managers have a lot to answer for. Why would Watmough want to walk away from the last year of his contract, which if you believe reports is heavily back-ended and is worth $900k next year? I'd like to see these players finish their careers at Manly and the club should do whatever is reasonable to keep them, but if they really want out let them go and start developing some new talent. The clubs main priority should on retaining DCE and Foran.

            Commenter
            Mulga47
            Date and time
            July 22, 2014, 6:55AM

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