MANLY outplayed Melbourne, Des Hasler played politician and Josh Perry played his last NRL game. That was the wash-up at Brookvale Oval, a ground which will be under further scrutiny following a match in which Jamie Lyon outscored the Storm 18-6.
Tony Williams of the Sea Eagles celebrates with team mates after scoring a try. Photo: Getty Images
Despite losing Perry, the NSW and Australian prop, with a suspected broken leg after less than 90 seconds, the Sea Eagles trounced the Storm in what Craig Bellamy described as ''probably the worst performance of the year''.
The odds were stacked against Manly from the outset. Not only were they up against a team still more than $1 million over the salary cap, the Storm had a three-man advantage for much of the encounter. Anthony Watmough played half the match on one peg after picking up a suspected medial strain, while Matt Ballin was knocked senseless and assisted from the field with more than a quarter of the game remaining.
Manly, however, were seldom troubled. It was appropriate that, on a night when the the home side exacted some revenge for the 2007 grand final ''loss'', that Lyon starred.
Jason King of the Sea Eagles offloads the ball. Photo: Getty Images
The Sea Eagles' co-captain - like most people - has had his fair share of difficulty in marking Greg Inglis. How often has he been on the wrong end of the fend? But not this time.
Lyon scored two tries, set up another and generally tormented the man who tormented him at interstate level. He kicked five goals from as many attempts for good measure.
''When you finish with 14 or so players, it was a good effort,'' Hasler said. The manner in which two of them went down will put the playing surface under more scrutiny. St Helens-bound Perry and fellow forward Watmough slipped while attempting innocuous tackles.
But Hasler, whose closing remark was ''I should be a politician", was more concerned with the state of the stadium in general.
''I think $600 million has been spent on NRL grounds,'' Hasler said. ''Brookvale Oval - I need to be careful of my numbers here - has received just $10m of that $600m. There were 300,000 constituents on the northern beaches and we need to get off our arse to make a point that we want a decent facility here to watch [sport].
''The local council needs help. I think in that $600 million, we've only had $1 million from the federal government. I think this club deserves some support … we've been around for well over 60 years and private owners have invested heavily in a Manly icon which still belongs to the community and the people. We do need an injection of funds.''
The Storm meanwhile, need an injection of enthusiasm. Skipper Cameron Smith described the performance as ''awful'' and ''soft''. Bellamy promised to wield the axe if there was a repeat next week. ''We were very poor actually, especially defence,'' he said. ''They were just too good all over the park in every part of the game, I thought.''
Another concern for the Sea Eagles was the size of the crowd. Just 12,550 came out for what was billed as a grudge match. Those that came made their feelings known. Melbourne were booed from the moment they ran onto the field. The fans took particular delight when Tony ''T-Rex'' Williams lived up to his name and trampled over Storm No.1 Billy Slater to score.
Hooker Matt Ballin also left the field midway through the second term with concussion to give coach Des Hasler some potential selection headaches before next week’s clash with St George Illawarra.