THE GOOD: What can you say about a game that was never going to be a true contest without the best player in the NRL? Stats don't lie and 7/26 wins without Thurston pretty much summed up the Cowboys chances against an on fire Manly team. Clearly Dessie's pre game speech was to hit them hard and fast and we didn't disappoint with a lightning 12-0 lead. In fact we were so dominant that they were forced to make a staggering 55 tackles to just 9 from us in the first 15 minutes. The big surprise however out of all that was that our incredibly impressive start didn't result in a sizeable half time lead. The Cowboys sure tried hard but the 2011 fortress Brookie defence was on show again and completely shut them down each and every time they tried to crack us. Even an unlucky Oldfield kick retrieve spill in our 20 failed to net them points. Dessies half time speech was no doubt a repeat to start as fast as possible and once again we responded with Matai's lightning quick 42nd minute try which effectively ended the game there and then. A rudderless Cowboys were never going to mount any challenge from 18-0 and the remaining 37 minutes became a fairly dull mixture of good but not great attack from us, a continuation of our very impressive brick wall defence, and a boring procession of Maxwell penalties doing their best to suffocate the game. (see THE BAD below). In terms of individual performances our forwards were all superb. George lead the way with his gut busting (sorry) 158 metres, ably supported by a very hard working Kingy. Glenn had another strong game and seems to look so much better with Brett in the team, Ballin threw in his regulation 80 minute 40 tackles (ok 39), Joe ran the ball hard as usual, and perhaps the best news of all was the fantastic improvement of Tony Williams who was a whisker away from bursting holes in their defence every time he got his hands on the ball. Finally it seems he's figured out how damaging his mac truck rig can be. An even more mouth watering prospect is the very strong sense that he can be twice as damaging if he keeps applying himself like this. Foran was (as always) a tantalisingly exciting danger with the ball in his hands, but for the 2nd week running he was largely able to hand the reins to the rapidly blossoming DCE. Once again he took ownership of the game with professional ease directing the plays and plotting his perfectly weighted kicks. Matai was a standout in the backs with 208 blockbusting metres, and of course we were all rewarded with another two sizzling Brett tries, the 2nd half one being a an absolute breathtaking gem, which in the process has surely put to bed any lingering doubts over his blistering speed. Special mention goes to Darcy Lussick making his debut and looking a very likely prospect. I stood next to him at full time as he chatted to a friend on the fence and he commented on how the pace of the game really amazed him. Not such a surprising comment given the obvious massive step up from the lower grades, but nonetheless revealing given he said that after just a few minutes on the field he already felt buggered! Another really exciting addition to our depth is a very pleasing thing. As for Man of the Match, whilst Brett, Glenn, Matai's and DCE's performances were all worthy, I couldn't go past big George, he just brained them all night and again was rewarded with a semi trailer through the security gates try. THE BAD: What is it with these refs and their hunting in packs obsession to find as many penalties as possibles? Listening to them through Sports Ears is mind numbingly annoying as they compete with each other to find a penalty in literally every single tackle or play the ball. I'm surprised Maxwell didn't hand out the usual barrage of warnings to Watmough even if he was in the grandstand. And what's with his speech the guy can barely string a sentence together no wonder both captains seemed confused by his decisions and stuttered explanations. Please can we get some decent refs? THE UGLY: Once again the weather gods did us no favours. How many home games is that now in 2011 marred by wet miserable weather? The damage to the gate must be crippling to our accountants. My seat high in the Jane Try is warm and toasty but with Brookie's 3rd world facilities you can hardly blame the majority of the hill fans for staying home. It's a massive shame given a Manly team this good deserves 16,000 plus to every home game. But let's end with a GOOD reprise. What a team we have, the enormous spirit bonding the team is a site to behold, and there's an undeniable excitement lying ahead for us all. Bring on the Saints.