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Manly show their best is frighteningly good

Touch of class ... Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans gives Knights back-rower Alex McKinnon the slip yesterday.

Touch of class ... Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans gives Knights back-rower Alex McKinnon the slip yesterday. Photo: Wolter Peeters

A sunny, August Sunday afternoon at their Brookvale home base, hosting the in-form Knights, provided the perfect platform for Manly to make a statement about their 2012 intentions.

Now only two weeks away from finals football, I expected something dynamic from the Sea Eagles.

They did not waste the opportunity.

A stunning first half of near perfect rugby league blew the Knights off the park to the tune of 38-4. This scintillating, seven-try romp sent a clear and defined message that the defending premiers will not be giving up their trophy without a fight.

Sure there are other genuine title contenders. The Bulldogs deserve their minor premiership position and history shows us this is a club that won't be scared to win a another title.

The Melbourne Storm are also determined. Their champion playmakers are the envy of most NRL teams. They have an undeniable chance.

South Sydney haven't been in this position for many, many years. It would appear at this stage they are finding the oxygen in the air a little thin at their lofty position near the top of the table. However, they are capable of a strong finals showing and have given themselves a shot at glory.

The Cowboys remain something of a dark horse. They have the roster and they also have Johnathan Thurston.

But despite the obvious credentials of all these other contenders, I get the feeling that if Manly are at their best, they will be the first team to win back-to-back titles since the Broncos achieved the feat in 1993.

There is something hypnotic about watching a well drilled football team systematically dissect an opponent. Manly's clinical ball movement and mesmerising sleight of hand totally bewildered, and at times even embarrassed, the Newcastle defensive system.

It wasn't as though they were playing slouches either. The Knights have been in terrific form and are coached by the master, Wayne Bennett. One can safely assume they came to Brookvale yesterday both well prepared and well intentioned. However, they were never in the contest during this blistering first half.

The Manly forwards ran roughshod over their rivals. Halves Daly Cherry-Evans and Kieran Foran revelled in the extra time and space afforded them. They tore the Knights to shreds on the left side, the right side, and even down the middle of the field.

To the right they have the guile and craft of Glenn Stewart and Jamie Lyon, terrorising defenders with their repertoire of passes and angles.

To the left they have the raw power of Tony Williams and Steve Matai who both prefer to run at faces rather than spaces. They intimidate opponents even before they get to them. Defences will often over-read and over-compensate when trying to contain them. This then offers opportunities for the speed men around them.

Down the middle they have fullback Brett Stewart lurking around the play-the-ball area supporting his dummy-half; or just sweating on the inside passes from his alert playmakers as they taunt tired and lazy forwards in the opposition defensive line.

It was pretty to watch. Power, skill, speed; plus the necessary touch of ruthlessness. Yep, this was an absolute carve up. The Knights had no answer. The half-time siren saved them, otherwise the scoring was never going to stop.

Events and injuries in the second half conspired to slow the Manly demolition and offered a chance for the Knights to play a bit if attacking football of their own. They ran in some nice tries against Manly's disorganised defence; but the damage had already been done.

The Sea Eagles, down to only 13 healthy players and no interchange replacements to call on, paced themselves to the finish line. They struggled at times with players playing out of position and with no regular dummy-half to operate the rucks. They put away the flamboyance, closed ranks and grafted for a while. However, once the result was safely in their keeping, Manly then delivered a killer blow on the stroke of full-time to remind the Knights who was boss.

I really liked this Manly performance. Powerful stuff.

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NRL Season 2015

Round 1
Thu, 05 MarTimes shown AEDT
BRI 6 vs SOU 36 Report Stats
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
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NEW vs WAR 16:30HS
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NQL vs SYD 21:001300 Smiles Stadium
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
PEN vs CBY 16:00Pepper Stadium
CRO vs CBR 18:30Remondis Stadium
Mon, 09 MarTimes shown AEDT
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Round 2
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
CBY vs PAR 19:35ANZ
CRO vs BRI 20:35Remondis Stadium
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
PEN vs GCT 16:30Carrington Park
MAN vs MEL 19:00BO
NQL vs NEW 21:001300 Smiles Stadium
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
SOU vs SYD 16:00ANZ
CBR vs WAR 18:30GIO Stadium
Mon, 16 MarTimes shown AEDT
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Round 3
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
MAN vs CBY 19:35BO
BRI vs NQL 20:35SUN
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
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MEL vs CRO 19:30AAMI
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
SOU vs WST 16:00ANZ
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SYD vs PEN 19:00AS
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Round 4
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
PAR vs SOU 19:35Pirtek Stadium
WST vs CBY 19:35ANZ
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs PEN 15:00HS
CRO vs GCT 17:30Remondis Stadium
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Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
WAR vs BRI 12:00MSS
SYD vs CBR 14:00AS
Mon, 30 MarTimes shown AEDT
NQL vs MEL 19:001300 Smiles Stadium
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Round 5
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
CBY vs SOU 16:00ANZ
GCT vs BRI 20:35Cbus Super Stadium
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
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NEW vs STG 19:30HS
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CRO 16:00AS
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Round 6
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI vs SYD 19:35SUN
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Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
PAR vs GCT 15:00Pirtek Stadium
WAR vs WST 17:30MSS
PEN vs MAN 19:30Pepper Stadium
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CBR vs MEL 14:00GIO Stadium
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Round 7
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CBY vs MAN 19:35ANZ
STG vs BRI 19:35Jubilee Oval
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NQL vs WAR 17:301300 Smiles Stadium
MEL vs SYD 19:30AAMI
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WST vs CBR 14:00VAS
NEW vs PAR 16:00HS
Mon, 20 AprTimes shown AEST
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Round 8
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CBY vs WST 19:45ANZ
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NEW vs NQL 14:00HS
SYD vs STG 16:00AS
MEL vs MAN 18:15AAMI
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Round 9
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs PEN 19:35SUN
SYD vs WST 19:35AS
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CBR vs GCT 15:00GIO Stadium
CRO vs WAR 17:30Remondis Stadium
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MAN vs NEW 14:00BO
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Round 10
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
CBY vs SYD 19:35ANZ
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MEL vs SOU 19:30AAMI
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Round 11
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
SOU vs PAR 19:45ANZ
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Round 12
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
PEN vs PAR 19:45Pepper Stadium
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Round 13
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
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NEW vs CBR 15:00HS
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PEN vs MEL 19:30Pepper Stadium
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Round 14
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
WST vs SOU 19:45ANZ
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Round 15
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
MAN vs WST 19:45BO
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CBR vs NQL 15:00GIO Stadium
GCT vs WAR 17:30Cbus Super Stadium
CBY vs PEN 19:30ANZ
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NEW vs CRO 14:00HS
MEL vs BRI 16:00AAMI
Mon, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
STG vs SYD 19:00AS
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Round 16
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
BRI vs NEW 19:35SUN
SOU vs MAN 19:35ANZ
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
WAR vs CBR 15:00MSS
NQL vs CRO 17:301300 Smiles Stadium
PAR vs STG 19:30Pirtek Stadium
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WST vs PEN 16:00VAS
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Round 17
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN vs SOU 19:45Pepper Stadium
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Round 18
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Round 19
Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
PAR vs CBY 19:35ANZ
MEL vs PEN 19:35AAMI
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NEW vs GCT 17:30HS
STG vs SOU 19:30SCG
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Round 20
Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
BRI vs GCT 19:35SUN
WST vs SYD 19:35ANZ
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WAR vs MAN 15:00MSS
SOU vs NEW 17:30ANZ
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Round 21
Thu, 30 JulTimes shown AEST
WAR vs CRO 22:00MSS
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NQL vs CBR 00:001300 Smiles Stadium
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SOU vs PEN 00:00ANZ
SYD vs CBY 00:00AS
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WST vs MEL 00:00VAS
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Round 22
Thu, 06 AugTimes shown AEST
WAR vs STG 22:00MSS
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
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NEW vs SYD 00:00HS
CBR vs WST 00:00GIO Stadium
MAN vs SOU 00:00BO
CRO vs NQL 00:00Remondis Stadium
MEL vs GCT 00:00AAMI
PAR vs PEN 00:30TIO
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Round 23
Thu, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI vs STG 00:00SUN
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NQL vs SOU 00:001300 Smiles Stadium
PEN vs WAR 00:00Pepper Stadium
CBR vs MAN 00:00GIO Stadium
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CRO vs MEL 00:00Remondis Stadium
WST vs NEW 00:00CSS
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Round 24
Wed, 19 AugTimes shown AEST
WAR vs NQL 22:00MSS
Thu, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
STG vs PEN 00:00WIN
SOU vs CBY 00:00ANZ
SYD vs BRI 00:00AS
MAN vs PAR 00:00BO
CRO vs WST 00:00Remondis Stadium
MEL vs NEW 00:00AAMI
GCT vs CBR 00:00Cbus Super Stadium
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Round 25
Thu, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
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NEW vs CBY 00:00HS
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Round 26
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Melbourne Storm 0 0 0 0 0
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