Sport Rugby League Manly crush Cronulla in NRL romp
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Manly crush Cronulla in NRL romp

Daly Cherry-Evans
Getty
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Manly have powered to the top of the NRL table and consigned arch-rivals Cronulla to a dubious place in premiership history.

The Sea Eagles’ 26-0 victory at Remondis Stadium on Saturday night left the beleaguered Sharks as the first team to be kept scoreless for three successive games.

The toothless Sharks have gone precisely four-and-a-half hours without posting a solitary point, let alone a try.

Their last points came five weeks ago in a 22-20 home loss to the Wests Tigers.

Since then, South Sydney (18-0), St George Illawarra (30-0) and Manly have shut the Sharks out.

Even the return of seven first-graders, including inspirational captain Paul Gallen, fellow State of Origin winner Luke Lewis and playmaker Todd Carney, couldn’t help the Sharks as the Sea Eagles piled on five unanswered tries.

Fullback Brett Stewart, centre Steve Matai and skipper Jamie Lyon all crossed to give Manly a 16-0 lead at the break before replacement Tom Symonds bagged a second-half double as a series of Cronulla chances went begging.

Sharks fans thought the agonising wait for a four-pointer was over a minute before halftime.

Winger Sosaia Feki did well to squeeze his way over in the left-hand corner despite dancing millimetres next to the touchline in a tackle from Stewart.

Referee Gavin Morris awarded the try only for video refs Matt Cecchin and Luke Phillips to overrule him, deeming that Feki lost control of the football during his one-handed put-down attempt.

Skipper Gallen was livid, remonstrating with officials as the Sharks’ tryscoring drought stretched to almost four hours.

But it only worsened after the interval when interchange forward Tinirau Arona was held up over the line and Feki was denied again when Carney’s money ball was controversially called forward.

Two-times grand final winners over Cronulla, Manly’s shutout was also their first over the Sharks since 1996.

The only concern for Manly was the reporting of star five-eighth Kieran Foran for a second-half high tackle on Sharks fullback Nathan Gardner.