The Sea Eagles have moved to the outright lead of the NRL with a comfortable 21-12 victory over St George Illawarra on Monday night.
Despite having only won one of their last six matches at Jubilee Oval, the Sea Eagles produced a solid performance to improve their ordinary record at the venue.
The always-potent left edge struck two early blows in almost identical fashion to take an eight-point lead inside 25 minutes.
Brett Stewart’s hand in both tries proved imperative as he provided the last pass for Matai to score Manly’s first, before putting the centre through a yawning gap in the Dragons’ defensive line for Foran to pick up a lose ball and dive over for their second.
The Sea Eagles were running riot down their opposition’s right edge and were directing most of their traffic towards Benji Marshall, who was caught out on several occasions in the first half.
It would only be a matter of time before the Sea Eagles crossed again. With Steve Matai forced to leave the field with an injured knee, Tom Symonds stepped in to the void down Manly’s left side.
A brittle St George defensive line was again caught short on the edge as Symonds dived over for what appeared to be Manly’s third of the night. However a contentious no try ruling from upstairs completely changed the momentum of the game.
The Dragons made their way up field and capitalised as Marshall sliced through a gap to have his side back within two points. The halfback making amends for his earlier defensive lapses that led to Manly’s first two tries.
Leading by two at the break, the Sea Eagles extended their lead courtesy of a lovely cut-out pass from halfback Daly Cherry-Evans which hit the chest of a Symonds who crashed over the line.
Winger Jorge Taufua dived over in the corner soon after to take the Sea Eagles out to a 12-point lead as the Dragons struggled to contain their opposition.
A late field goal from Cherry-Evans sealed the victory as the Dragons hit back on the stroke of full time to soften the blow.