Walker sizzles as Manly runs riot against Souths
DYLAN Walker has come back to haunt the side that made him a star, tormenting the Rabbitohs as Manly ran roughshod for a 46-8 victory.
While it was Akuila Uate with all the rewards, scoring four tries, he only had to catch the ball and bend down for three of them after Walker had been too hot to handle for Souths' left edge.
The game was effectively over as a contest by half-time with Manly going to the sheds with a 30-2 lead at the break and the carve-up was only briefly stalled in the second half by a 50th-minute Hymel Hunt try.
Before and after that aberration, the Sea Eagles enjoyed complete dominance with Marty Taupau offloading at will and the rest of the pack pitching in as the visitors owned the middle of the field and then scorched their opposition on the edges.
While five of Manly's nine tries were scored by wingers, arguably the pick of the bunch came from Jake Trbojevic who couldn't believe his luck when his younger brother Tom got away an impossible no-look offload as he was about to hit the ground and it landed straight in the lock's bread basket.
That 38th-minute try capped off a stunning opening 40 minutes for Manly, with the fullback and the centre/wing combination of Walker and Uate on the right making the Rabbitohs look like schoolboys.
Tom Trbojevic put in a brilliant audition for a NSW jersey, adding to what has been a sensational season for him with two try assists and over 200 running metres for the game.
Whenever the Sea Eagles had front foot ball, the 20-year-old fullback was sniffing around the ruck for an opportunity, and he took plenty of them, with his footwork, speed and timing causing huge problems for the Rabbitohs.
However, just seven days after kicking the winning goal to beat the Raiders in golden point, it was once again Walker's night.
Interviewed in Fox Sports' pre-game coverage, Walker admitted he was pumped to play his old side, forecasting that there'd be plenty of chat between he and his good mates still running around in cardinal and myrtle, particularly with "the little garden gnome" Adam Reynolds.
But if there was any sledging once they got on to the field, the Rabbitohs halfback would have been silenced early.
Returning from a hip injury, Reynolds had an absolute shocker, handing momentum to Manly when there was still a game to be won with two poor early kicks that went dead and gave the Sea Eagles seven-tackle sets.
His night didn't get much better from there and it would have made it all the more difficult to cop as his close mate set up tries for Manly at will.
First he put Uate over with a flick pass, then he busted the Rabbitohs' defence open and drew the fullback before freeing his left arm and throwing a looping offload to the trailing winger.
But most embarrassing for Souths was the lead up to Uate's hat-trick, with Walker bulldozing forward and standing in a tackle involving three defenders before popping the ball over the top to give the Fijian another gift.
Manly's flashy back five looks to have plenty of points in it but it's the combination forming between Daly Cherry-Evans and Blake Green that would be most pleasing for Trent Barrett.
Cherry-Evans sprinkled magic dust on the Sea Eagles' attack with a vital 40/20 early in the game knocking Souths off balance and his scheming with front-foot ball repeatedly opening the Rabbitohs up.
Before the game was being played on Manly's terms though, it was Green turning the screws, with his short kicking game forcing three first half drop outs and his short passing game bringing directness to the forward play that opened the space out the back.