St George Illawarra Dragons moved to the top of the NRL ladder this morning – at least until Melbourne Storm face Cronulla Sharks on Sunday – with a convincing 35-10 victory over a disappointing Manly Sea Eagles at Lottoland (Brookvale Oval).
The Sea Eagles lost Fijian winger Akuila Uate prior to the game with a hamstring strain, forcing their coach Trent Barrett to call on Matthew Wright shortly after he had played almost a full game for Blacktown Workers.
Manly had come into the game with three successive wins, including a superb victory over the Roosters last time out, but they were well beaten by the Dragons, who scored six tries to two with England and Scotland internationals Gareth Widdop and Euan Aitken both playing a significant role. Widdop scored the first try of the game and added a second, as well as kicking five goals and a field-goal for a total of 19 points, while Aitken also scored two tries.
The Dragons’ other two tries were scored by Jack de Belin and Kurt Mann, while the Sea Eagles scored two tries by winger Jorge Taufua and a goal by Dylan Walker.
Both sides lost players to rib injuries – Tyson Frizell for the Dragons early in the game, and Marty Taupau late on.
Sea Eagles: 1 Tom Trbojevic, 2 Jorge Taufua, 3 Dylan Walker, 4 Brian Kelly, 20 Matthew Wright, 6 Blake Green, 7 Daly Cherry-Evans (c), 8 Brenton Lawrence, 9 Apisai Koroisau, 10 Martin Taupau, 11 Frank Winterstein, 12 Curtis Sironen, 13 Jake Trbojevic, Interchange:, 14 Lewis Brown, 15 Nate Myles, 16 Darcy Lussick, 17 Addin Fonua-Blake.
Dragons: 1 Jason Nightingale, 2 Nene Macdonald, 3 Euan Aitken, 4 Timoteo Lafai, 5 Kurt Mann, 6 Gareth Widdop (c), 7 Josh McCrone, 8 Russell Packer, 9 Cameron McInnes, 10 Paul Vaughan, 11 Tyson Frizell, 12 Joel Thompson, 13 Jack de Belin, Interchange:, 14 Tariq Sims, 15 Leeson Ah Mau, 16 Hame Sele, 17 Taane Milne,
A full review of all the weekend’s NRL action will feature in Monday’s edition of League Express