ANTHONY WATMOUGH has issued a warning to Manly's opponents as they step up their premiership defence, saying the Sea Eagles were sick of ''winning ugly'' and would be hard to stop now the injury and suspension toll is easing at Brookvale.
The second-rower warmed up for Wednesday week's State of Origin decider with an authoritive outing, playing a key role as Manly tore the Sydney Roosters apart to put the game virtually out of reach after only 30 minutes. They went on with the job to put on a half-century of points.
The premiers have won six of their past eight after a patchy start to the season and it was their overwhelming dominance at Allianz Stadium that pleased Watmough. He said the Sea Eagles were tired of scraping over the line against lesser sides. A month ago they beat the Roosters 18-10 but the script was different yesterday.
''We were winning but winning very ugly, only just beating teams that we should have put away,'' Watmough said. ''But once we get our team on the park we're going to be a hard team to stop. It's just a matter of getting everyone together and on the field at once, which I don't think we've had all year but it'll be good when it happens.''
Given the final 10 minutes to rest, Watmough said Manly had passed an important character test to overcome a Roosters' fightback that threatened to erode their early ascendancy. The hosts scored twice in the first 12 minutes of the second half to reduce the lead but that was as close as they got.
''We didn't want to come out in the second half and do that, we wanted to go on with it,'' Watmough said. ''But I think it showed the quality of our team. We stopped that roll-on that they got and we ended up putting a heap of points on. It takes a quality team to do that and I think it was a credit to all the boys.''
It was an ideal tune-up for Origin for the NSW back-rower, who left the ground itching to get back into the Blues camp before the series-deciding match at Suncorp Stadium.
''It's a big occasion for the Blues and NSW altogether. Everyone is saying 'stop the rot' and it's definitely true,'' he said. ''It has to happen. We won't be overawed by the occasion again. We didn't really know what to expect with last year and Darren Lockyer's farewell. They had everything to play for. We'll know what to expect this time.''
There was a momentary injury scare for Manly when halfback Daly Cherry-Evans clutched a knee late in the match but coach Geoff Toovey said it was only a cork. The No.7 has plenty of time to recover as the Sea Eagles enjoy a bye this weekend.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-league/league-news/watmough-warns-rivals-best-is-still-to-come-20120624-20wli.html#ixzz1ykIl8700