There were almost as many mistakes as points in the first half of the Dragons’ clash against Manly on Friday night before St George found some form and secured a thumping 38-12 win.
Both sides had a case of the fumbles in the opening stanza and at times the Sea Eagles were running around like headless birds of a different variety as the quality on show between two teams nobody expects to make the finals failed to impress.
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Zac Lomax opened the scoring for the home side in Wollongong, leaping high to catch a cross-field kick inside 10 minutes but standards dropped after that.
The Dragons bombed a certain try when Corey Norman made a break, only to throw a wayward pass Matt Dufty couldn’t hold onto in a two-on-one situation with only the fullback to beat.
More errors unfolded and fans were weighing up whether to shield their eyes from the rugby league dumpster fire unfolding in front of them.
“This game not quite living up to last night’s highs,” footy reporter Scott Bailey tweeted, referencing Penrith’s dramatic 12-10 win over Melbourne on Thursday.
PointsBet tweeted: “More errors than an advanced calculus maths test in this one. Both teams have squandered nearly certain tries.”
Journalist Mark Gottlieb wrote: “I don’t know if it’s worse to be a Broncos fan or a Sea Eagles fan at the moment. Both teams are not very good at football.”
The Dragons settled first, finding the line twice more as Manly’s defence was torn to ribbons. Norman showed glimpses of his best running game, putting Tariq Sims through a hole with a short ball that led to a try, before much-maligned halves partner Ben Hunt threw a lovely pass close to the line that paved the way for Cody Ramsey to stroll over for a four-pointer.
But shortly before the buzzer, Lomax completely butchered a clearance as he tried to bat a ball dead in the in-goal, gifting Manly its only try of the first 40 minutes.
At halftime, the Dragons had made six errors while Manly was guilty of a whopping 10 handling mistakes, completing a woeful 55 per cent of its sets.
“They’re really poor. Some players are coming in, some are coming out (in defence),” Broncos legend Gorden Tallis told Fox League.
“Ten handling errors as well.”
Ex-NRL star Braith Anasta said “Manly have just carried on from last week”, referencing the team’s 26-12 loss to South Sydney in round two.
Manly started the second half in clumsy fashion. Jason Saab dropped a bomb and Cody Walker spilt the ball, but fortunately for Des Hasler’s men Ramsey was denied a second try by the video referee.
But that was were the good luck ended. Although slightly safer with ball in hand in the final 40 minutes, Manly couldn’t throw any punches in attack and when Dufty zipped through for another try with 13 minutes remaining, it was game over.
The Sea Eagles’ night was summed up when Reuben Garrick couldn’t hold onto a grubber and Lomax scored his second try of the night, grounding the loose ball.
Manly is now winless after three starts and has conceded 110 points, while the Dragons have won two on the trot after going down in their season opener against the Sharks.