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Manly crush Bulldogs 20-6 in NRL clash

Manly defeat Canterbury

Canterbury will need to overcome 80 years of history to revive their premiership hopes, after losing 20-6 to fierce NRL rivals Manly on Friday night at ANZ Stadium.
Manly crush Bulldogs 20-6 in NRL clash
by AAP

By Joe Barton

SYDNEY, April 5 AAP - Canterbury will need to overcome 80 years of history to revive their premiership hopes, after losing 20-6 to fierce NRL rivals Manly on Friday night at ANZ Stadium.

The Sea Eagles, sparked by a brilliant performance from incumbent NSW fullback Brett Stewart, continued their hot start to 2013 with the three tries to one win.

It consigns last year's grand finalists to their fourth loss from the opening five rounds.

Only the Sydney Roosters in 2002 have endured an equally horror start to a season and recovered to win the title - and before them it was Newtown in 1933.

Compounding Canterbury's woes was another indifferent night from star fullback Ben Barba, who struggled to impart himself on the game and also copped a knock to his ankle.

The Sea Eagles, who secured their fourth win, set the win up with an 18-point first half, which included a brace of tries to winger Jorge Taufua.

Stewart laid on two tries in a sublime first half to put his name forward to retain the Blues No.1 jersey.

Stewart helped open the scoring when he threw a beautiful cut-out pass for Taufua's opening try before the disappointing crowd of 18,563 after just eight minutes.

Soon after Stewart produced a scything 35-metre run before linking up with Jamie Lyon, who sold a dummy and snuck past four Bulldogs defenders to score next to the posts.

Lyon kicked four from five, including a penalty which constituted Manly's only second-half points, for a personal haul of 12 points.

Manly's forward pack, led by a stellar performance from Anthony Watmough, completely outmuscled a Canterbury pack desperately missing star props Sam Kasiano (leg) and James Graham (suspension).

The Bulldogs were uncharacteristically sloppy, making seven first-half errors and regularly inviting Manly into their red zone.

The hosts scored a consolation try to captain Michael Ennis with eight minutes to go, but it is unlikely to be enough to placate coach Des Hasler.

Imposing Bulldogs second-rower Tony Williams continued his lacklustre start to the season - making just 51 metres in his first match against his former club.

Des Hasler lamented his side's miserable first half and admitted they were never in the contest.

"I thought we were off tonight, I thought we were a bit poor particularly in the first half," Hasler, who described Williams' form as "steady", said.

"A lot of our options (were poor), we only got through about eight sets from 14, we were probably a bit better than that in the second half but Manly were too good for us tonight, they were the better side.

"I guess it's the fact that we've probably been up for quite a while, but it was evident tonight."

Coach Geoff Toovey was delighted with Manly's brilliant defence, which has conceded a competition-best five tries and 36 points across the first five rounds.

They were on the verge of holding a third team to zero points, having already shut out Newcastle and Wests Tigers, and Toovey pointed to the defence as a key factor to their impressive start.

"Yeah it was (close to another shut out) but that's terribly difficult in today's competition," Toovey said.

"They're all quality teams so it's always very difficult to hold a team out to zero."

Hasler refused to put the loss down to missing key troops, which also included the suspended Krisnan Inu and lock Greg Eastwood, who pulled out of the match on game day due to personal issues.


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