A much more improved and ‘controlled’ performance was one of the many pleasing factors for Manly Warringah Sea Eagles Coach Des Hasler from last night’s win over the St George-Illawarra Dragons.
The Sea Eagles overcame an energetic first half effort from the Dragons to trail 14-12 at half-time before finishing strongly for a 32-18 win at Cbus Super Stadium.
The 'home' match was played at Cbus Super Stadium instead of 4 Pines Park after the NRL relocated clubs to Queensland to keep the Telstra Premiership going due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney.
The victory sees the Sea Eagles sit in fifth place with seven matches remaining before the finals.
“This period now, where the run home and the intensity around those games, really picks up, and I thought that was a really good example of that tonight,’’ Hasler said.
“It comes down now to getting to the finals healthy and getting to the finals in good shape.
“We just have to keep winning. It’s the only way we are going to make that (top four) happen. We sort of can’t control that but we can certainly control our own destiny.
"We wanted to improve on what we had last week.
"Against Canberra we thought we were in a position to win the game and made a few costly, not so much errors but more the way we managed the game, I thought we were very good at managing the game this week and a couple of young players that we had coming through really stepped up.
"It's a good reward for them because they've worked pretty hard, so it’s great"
The strong win was even more impressive considering Daly Cherry-Evans and Tom Trbojevic were both rested after playing in the final Origin match on Wednesday night.
Trbojevic was ruled out of the team on Thursday with Cherry-Evans coming out of the side on game day.
“Chez has had a big six weeks. Origin’s a very tough arena, he’s put his body on the line a few times. He came away with a few niggles and we thought now was a good time for a rest,'' Hasler said.
“The boys took on the challenge and they stepped up. They were awesome. We can build on that now."
For the Sea Eagles, second-rower Haumole Olakau'atu, five-eighth Kieran Foran, and makeshift half Josh Schuster all turned in strong games. It was Schuster's first match back in six weeks from a calf injury.
"I thought Haumole was really strong, the last two weeks he's been really good," Hasler said.
"Our forwards, they played through them at the start and allowed Foran and Schuster to play off the back of it.
"I thought Dylan Walker was really good and provided some really good impact off the bench. This week we were much more controlled.
“I thought Foran fulfilled the role really well. It’s good to have that experience so it was really valuable tonight."
Back-rower Karl Lawton was taken to hospital during the halftime break after suffering sharp back pain before returning to the ground.
"He's just got a cork in his back so we'll get the necessary scans done and he'll be right to go," Hasler added.