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Groundhog day for Manly - Australian Rugby league News
globalrugbyleague - Sat, 12 Apr 2008 09:18:00 GMT
Friday night’s Grand Final showdown turned out to be nothing more then a replay of last year’s premiership showdown after Manly once again found themselves on the wrong side of the scoreboard.

Looking to write the wrongs of history and perhaps even secure a little “Womanly” respect out of the Storm, the visitors turned up and received another spanking, going down 26-4 at the hands of the reigning premiers.

Fullback Billy Slater was the hero for the home side, bagging two tries and making strong claims for a maiden berth into the national side.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy was full of praise for star fullback.

“Thank god he plays with us,” he said.

“His first half tonight, he scored those two tries and I don’t know what else I can say about him to be quite honest.

“I’ve said it a thousand times, with no disrespect to any other fullbacks in the competition because there’s such a good batch out there… we’re just glad he’s playing with us.”

After a slow start to the season, the Melbourne Storm look odds on for back-to-back titles showing last year’s 34-8 win in the corresponding fixture was not just a one-off.

Winger Israel Folau put the Sea Eagles on notice three minutes into the game, when he made an amazing ball and all tackle on Steve Menzies just centimetres out from his own try line.

The missed opportunity for early points bit Manly in the rear as Slater wriggled out of a challenge, dummied and carved his way through a host of Sea Eagles players to open the scoring.

Three minutes later, Victoria’s other golden boy Greg Inglis got his name onto the scoresheet when he literally pushed Manly fullback Brett Stewart out of his way for a 10-0 lead.

The Sydneysiders were in for a long night especially when the in form Billy Slater was at it again 30 minutes in.

Finding it difficult to wrap up the ball carrier, the Storm took full advantage as Slater fended off a challenge from Jamie Lyon, dummied and ran over the try line to put his side in a commanding 14-0 half time lead.

And the magic night was just going to continue for the Storm number 1.

After the resumption of play, Slater heaped more misery onto his opponents when his splendid cut out pass found Anthony Quinn in open space to increase the score to 20-0.

And the Storm didn’t relent.

An attempted chip kick into the in goal area from half back Cooper Cronk was easily regathered momentarily by the Sea Eagles until Israel Folau dumped the Manly patron over the sideline.

From the resulting play, the Storm ran rings around their stunned opponents as Cronk’s short pass to Ryan Hoffman cut the Sea Eagles defence into shreds as he ran hard and straight into a gap for a 26-0 lead.

But the Sea Eagles efforts would not go totally unrewarded as winger Michael Barney found space on his side of the park to grab a consolation try.

With a new sense of confidence, the Melbourne Storm will be hot favourites when they travel up to the nations capital to face the Canberra Raiders in round six of the competition.

The Sea Eagles in the meantime will have need to pick up their pride off the floor when they face the Eels at Parramatta stadium next week.

In another sign of League’s attendance competitiveness in Victoria, Olympic Park secured 311 more fans then the Eels-Titans showdown in Sydney.

Melbourne 26 (B Slater 2 G Inglis A Quinn R Hoffman tries C Smith 3 goals) d Manly 4 (M Bani try) at Olympic Park. Crowd: 13,632. Referee: T Archer. Penalties: Storm 9-9 - Read More, Here