Jack de Belin of the Dragons (second from left) celebrates with teammates after scoring a try.
Jack de Belin of the Dragons (second from left) celebrates with teammates after scoring a try. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Dragons roll Manly after 'diabolical' decision

ST GEORGE Illawarra has stunned the Manly at Lottoland to record a huge 35-10 win on Saturday afternoon.

The day didn't start well for the Sea Eagles when winger Akuila Uate was ruled out after sustaining a groin injury in the warm-up and it didn't get any better after a controversial call.

Fans, commentators and players were left scratching their heads in the fourth minute when Dragons skipper Gareth Widdop scooped up the ball after stand-in flyer Matt Wright played it to no dummy half.

The try was sent up to the bunker who ruled it a try, despite Sea Eagles star Daly Cherry-Evans appearing to be obstructed by Jason Nightingale.

"It was diabolical, the decision," Fox Sports commentator Michael Ennis told Super Saturday.

"Daly Cherry-Evans trying to get back to dummy half, Nightingale comes through and just scoops him out of the way. He's got no ability to get to dummy half and Widdop just picks up the ball and strolls over.

"It was unbelievable that it was allowed to be a try.

"The conversation between Cherry-Evans and (referee) Gavin Badger it was like 'we don't need to look at it'."

The Dragons gained the momentum on the back of the decision and capitalised when Euan Aitken sliced through the defence to extend the Red V's lead.

Aitken had his second just eight minutes later with a quick dart down the right side courtesy of a lovely ball from Josh McCrone.

The Dragons way have been without star fullback Josh Dugan, but they showed they're still a force to be reckoned with veteran Nightingale at the back.

 

Brian Kelly of the Sea Eagles is tackled by Kurt Mann (left) and Joel Thompson of the Dragons.
Brian Kelly of the Sea Eagles is tackled by Kurt Mann (left) and Joel Thompson of the Dragons. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Along with Dugan and Widdop, the Kiwi international is off-contract at the end of the season and showed enough to warrant an extension, at least for another year.

Manly looked sluggish in attack for most of the game, but finally got on the scoreboard two minutes from halftime when Jorge Taufua showed superb strength to power over out wide.

McCrone was back in the action shortly after the break when he set up Jack de Belin under the posts.

When a Tim Lafai flick saw Kurt Mann cross, the result appeared a foregone conclusion, but the Sea Eagles hit back with Taufua's second in the 68th minute.

A Widdop field goal rubbed salt into Manly's wounds with a 78th minute field goal and then piled on more misery when he remarkably grounded the ball in the in-goal while chasing a kick.

The result sees the Red V sit on top of the table after six games with five wins.

Club legend and Fox Sports commentator Mark Gasnier believes coach Paul McGregor has done enough to prove he deserves a contract extension beyond the 2017 season.

"I definitely think so," Gasnier said.

"I'm a big fan of Paul McGregor's coaching.

"I think when he first came into grade and took over from Steve Price I thought it was displayed.

"I think he learned a lot of hard lessons last year about the whole shape of a lot of things that is the coach's control.

"He's only going to get better and better."

Aside from the Uate injury, Manly's loss was compounded when wrecking ball forward Martin Taupau suffered rib cartilage damage late in the game.

Dragons backrower Tyson Frizell also suffered a rib injury midway through the first half and didn't return to the game.

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