Game of two halves... almost.
The Dragons blew the Sea-Eagles off the park at WIN Stadium in a high scoring affair. The St George-Illawaara team scored 9 tries to Manlys 4 in what can only be described as a flip-flopping affair.
The Dragons held a 30-0 half time lead thanks to tries to Nightingale, Lafai, Aitken, Host and Widdop.
With Manly desperate to hit back, Dylan Walker got them off to a good start by dotting down in the 42nd minute.
What followed can only be described as mind boggling. The Dragons were in possession inside the Manly 20 when a dust up betwen Jack de Belin and Darcy Lussick resulted in the former throwing a punch and being binned.
De Belin can also count himself lucky as it looked to some like he struck out with an elbow but the fact he was holding the ball with the same arm may save him from further scrutiny.
Manly then went on the attack, scoring 3 tries in the 10 minutes that Lussick was off the field to little brother Joey Lussick, Akuila Uate and Jake Trbojevic which closed the game up at 30-22.
As soon as Darcy returned to the field, the Dragons scored through Paul Vaughan which kick started another run of points as the game finished 52-22.
With the news that Josh Dugan would miss the game, Matt Dufty finally got his chance at fullback and was one of the Dragons best. He finished on 82* points with 11 tackle busts, 194 running metres, two try assists and capped it off with the final try of the game. Why this kid has been held back for so long beats me and the Dragons faithful will hope he can retain his spot at the back. With Euan Aitken going down after scoring his second try, perhaps Josh Dugan can return into the centres? We'll have to wait and see but the fact of the matter is, The Dragons looked a lot more electric with Dufty in the side.
Trbojevic Bros Inc roll on
Jake and Tom continue to shine in the Manly team with Jake nabbing a try for the second game in a row and finishing on 72* points. With Sam Burgess possibly missing time on the run home, Jake will be a popular target and at under 10% ownership could provide a nice alternative to the mainstays in the forwards. Tom couldn't get on the scoreboard today but he did turn provider for one try and saved another, finishing on 49*. He had a very quiet game so to still produce a score of that level is fantastic news for all his owners. Another potential Burgess trade target with Curtis Scott and Tyrell Fuimaono both disappointing this week.
Guns are guns for a reason
And the reason is clear. Average 50 or more and you'll be considered for a season ending spot in a lot of teams. The usual suspects Jack de Belin (60*) and Paul Vaughan (56*) continued to provide as they have all season. JdB managed 76 minutes today with Joel Thompson sidelined in the warm up and Packer being pulled early after some dismal defending led to the Manly fight back. Vaughan scored a try so his score may disappoint some of his owners but with a couple of less than ideal scores recently, I'd be laughing all the way to the bank.
And guns will soon no longer be guns...
Cameron McInnes and Martin Taupau will count themselves lucky that everyone is running low on trades but I have no doubt they will still find themselves in the shop window for a number of teams this week following two very disappointing scores of 34* and 33* respectively. McInnes is notorious for relying on tackle counts and with the Dragons having the majority of possession, he only managed to make 39 today. Combine that with 1 missed tackle, 1 error and 1 penalty conceded and McInnes was never in the hunt for a top score. With his running metres drying up (he hasn't run for more than 20 metres since round 15) he will be a hard hold, but with Cameron Smith possible missing some time, there aren't really any better options. Taupau started the game with some strong runs and when he went off after his first stint of 25 minutes, was on 28 points. Unfortunately, he must have watched what Andrew Fifita did on Friday night as his second 22 minute stint returned just 5 points. With 10 minutes remaining he was actually on less than his half time score. Taupau has been rather disappointing of late, with two sub-35 scores in his last 4 games. I'm sure if there were more trades floating around, he'd be a goner.
*Scores do not include updates and were correct at time of writing.