The Tom Trbojevic-inspired Sea Eagles now have a top four finish firmly on their radar after putting the Sharks to the sword 40-22 with a scintillating display of attacking rugby league.
Des Hasler likes his side to fly “under the radar” but with 12 wins from their last 15 games the Sea Eagles are now above the fray and viewed by the teams above them as a real threat. Just two points behind the fourth-placed Eels, they will aim to fight attacking fire with fire against the red hot Storm on Saturday night.
Trbojevic owned the second half as only he can with three tries in 11 minutes as the Sharks fell apart in what became a spiteful affair with Sharks centre Will Chambers giving plenty of lip.
Manly’s attack was just sensational against Cronulla in the opening 20 minutes. Razzle dazzle football from Daly Cherry-Evans, Tom Trbojevic, Jason Saab and Morgan Harper saw them get out to 16-0. The Sharks, with their trademark street smarts, hung in there and hit back with tries to Will Kennedy and Braydon Trindall to set up the second half.
Jason Saab bagged a first half double on Monday night. Image: Grant Trouville/NRL photosSource:Supplied
Tommy Turbo blitzed the second stanza and it was soon 40-10 on the back of his third hat-trick in his last four games for Manly. Fox League’s Greg Alexander said in commentary that Trbojevic “makes it look like park footy”. It was like he was playing a different game to the rest. The Manly fullback now has 22 try assists and 18 tries in just 11 games this year. Trbojevic was given an early shower with 12 minutes to go when he had an incredible three tries, three line breaks and three try assists to his credit.
The acrobatics and skill of lanky Manly winger Saab have lit up the NRL this year and he took it to another level with a stunning try that combined the skills of a contortionist and a gymnast. Collecting a Cherry-Evans kick while going over the touch-in-goal line, he somehow got the ball to ground from his skyscraper height. His double took his try tally to 18 for the year.
The Sharks are holding on to a spot in the top eight by the skin of their teeth. Image: Grant Trouville/NRL ImagesSource:Supplied
The Sharks, in eighth on points differential, are now one of five teams on 18 points and all battling for two finals spots.
Cronulla coach Josh Hannay said on Fox League before the game that he wanted his team to make a “line in the sand” statement with their performance with the semi-finals looming. It wasn’t the statement he had in mind.
Cronulla’s next four games are against teams beneath them on the ladder so their finals hopes remain very much alive. Getting playmaker Matt Moylan back on the park will help that cause and Hannay will be sweating on his return from a calf injury against the Warriors. The attacking wares of Trindall and Kennedy, who both scored doubles against Manly, will be crucial in the next month.
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