NRL reigning premiers’ form continues to slide in the lead-up to 2013 finals.
The Manly Sea Eagles have signaled their intent to be a contender for the NRL title this year with an impressive 28-8 win against the Melbourne Storm at Brookvale Oval.
In what shaped up as one of the games of the round, the result was never in doubt as the home side turned on the fireworks in the first 40 minutes, leaving the Storm stunned.
The victory was an important one for Geoff Toovey’s men as it was the first time they had beaten a top four side this year, with the Sea Eagles’ performance showing they are starting to peak at the right time of the year.
David Williams bagged a hat-trick before the break as the Manly right-side edge attack ran riot, while Melbourne struggled, with passes often missing their mark.
Manly lost Jamie Buhrer to a rib injury inside the first minute, they moved the ball to the right edge to allow Williams to open the scoring.
The Sea Eagles doubled their lead soon after when Glenn Stewart put his brother Brett into a gap as the margin became 10-0.
Manly kept pace with the clock as Jamie Lyon slotted a penalty to make it 12-0 from as many minutes as the
home side earned 70 per cent possession early on.
Melbourne continued to implode with a penalty late in the tackle count saw the Sea Eagles storm again down their right-edge, with Williams crossing in the corner for his second.
Despite further examination from the video referee the home side saw the green light as the lead continued to grow and hit 16 after 26 minutes.
As if watching a video replay the brilliant Sea Eagles attack saw them break open into the backfield before setting themselves up for Williams, who collected his third for the half.
Maurice Blair and Justin O’Neill had a nightmare opening half an hour to the game as they struggled to contain the home side’s attack as the lead grew to 20.
The Storm finally got on the board to give them momentum just before the break as Billy Slater made a half-break before kicking through to see Sisa Waqa win the race to the ball.
Cameron Smith missed the sideline conversion as the away side trialled by 16 at the break.
The Storm continued to struggle early in the second half as they failed to finish their set around half of the time, with the Sea Eagles happy to grind their opponents into the ground with an excellent kick-chase.
Off another line-drop out, Brett Stewart stormed down the right edge Manly made space on the outside with a well-worked move.
The Sea Eagles were rewarded for their patience in the second half, and Stewart’s double saw Manly all-but seal the result with 16 minutes left in the game.
Lyon continued his horror night with the boot as he missed what was an easy shot on goal to see the margin remain at 20.
O’Neill crossed and dotted down for the Storm after a less-than-ideal lead-up as the score became 24-8.
However, in a blow for the Sea Eagles looking towards the finals, Brett Stewart failed to finish the game with a potential hamstring strain despite the club saying it was precautionary substitution.
Daly Cherry Evans put the cherry on top of the win for the Sea Eagles as he toed ahead a loose pass by the Storm before scooting across to make the score 28-8.