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Winging it
ASKED yesterday how he rated Manly, Sydney Roosters coach Brian Smith gave an insight into his own frustrations, while offering little insight into the Sea Eagles. ''I don't know if we're a particularly good benchmark for that. We've been such an inconsistent group this year. It's pretty hard for us to tell,'' he said

Manly's Steve Matai. Photo: Brendan Esposito

 As the skies above Brookvale Oval provided four seasons in one day, the Roosters have certainly played four seasons in one, well, season. Hot one minute, cold the next, with many margins in between.
The Sea Eagles are just about the exact opposite. Few, if any, sides have shown such consistency over the course of 80 minutes and, so far, 22 rounds.
Yesterday they were at their clinical best. Sure, it was rather difficult to tell just how good a performance it was, given the quality of the opposition, but it was easy to see why the Sea Eagles are big contenders.

William Hopoate goes over the line to score for Manly. Photo: Brendan Esposito

''We just want to play well, finish well, continue with our momentum and stay healthy at the same time,'' Manly coach Des Hasler said, sounding as clinical as his side plays.
And his side did everything he asked - except stay healthy, which is out of their control. Prop Jason King's pectoral injury, which is likely to rule him out for the season, knocked them a little but they should not be disregarded.
''We stuck pretty well at what we wanted to do,'' Hasler said. ''At this time of year, it's about working on parts of the game and I thought we were pretty good at them today.
''I thought we were pretty tidy. Our patience with the ball was good, we completed well and our defence was pretty effective. I'm pleased with the way we went about the game of footy.''
It came after a loss a week ago against Wests Tigers. Yesterday's winning performance, such glorious monotony, showed it was just a minor stumble. ''We were looking for something like that after last week,'' prop Brent Kite said. ''We went out there, put the head down and got the result.
''During the week, all the boys were keen to not really dwell on it and not go looking for too many problems - the fact was, they [Wests Tigers] played some pretty good footy. That being the case, it wasn't too hard to fix. [Just] a bit of mental application.''
Their victory was about as close as teams get at this time of year to a consistent 80 minutes.
''We felt fairly comfortable that we had the game in hand most of the way there,'' Kite said. ''If Killer [centre Jamie Lyon] had kicked a few goals, we probably would have been breathing a bit easier a bit earlier.''
Lyon kicked two goals from eight, so the score could have been 48-8 if his radar had been working.
That wouldn't have been lost on the Roosters, who have followed up their own grand final performance last year with such regular disappointments in 2011. ''They dominated us with the ball and without it,'' captain Braith Anasta said.
It might be slightly unfair on the Roosters, but this was like a training run at times for the Sea Eagles.
''They came out and settled into a routine in their game,'' Smith said.
''We were hanging on reasonably well to start with, but their execution was outstanding.''
It was put to him that the Sea Eagles were too good - that he could tell. ''I think that was pretty obvious,'' he said.
MANLY 36 (W Hopoate 2 S Matai 2 D Cherry-Evans J Lyon G Stewart T Williams tries J Lyon 2 goals) bt SYDNEY ROOSTERS 8 (P Graham A Guerra tries) at Brookvale Oval. Referee: Matt Cecchin, Tony De Las Heras. Crowd: 13,743.

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