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Kieran Foran engineered another Manly victory at Brookvale Oval on Friday, a 40-8 NRL demolition of the Wests Tigers.
Foran scored two tries and threw the final pass for Clinton Gutherson’s 51st-minute try that put paid to any chance of a comeback from the joint venture, and was again instrumental in Daly Cherry-Evans’ final try just before fulltime.
The win lifts Manly to the outright lead on the NRL ladder on 26 points, with Penrith and Canterbury behind them on 24 points with games to play in round 18.
The loss leaves the disappointing Tigers 8-8 and with an increasingly tough battle to make the top eight.
After an early no-try ruling against Tigers winger David Nofoaluma, when he appeared to touch the ball down on the chalk, referee Shayne Hayne neglect to refer the decision to the video official and Manly swiftly cranked into gear.
Peta Hiku scored in the fourth minute after Manly worked a set play 40m upfield and Brett Stewart broke the line to offload to his winger.
Hiku scored out wide again four minutes later, then Foran opened his account in the 25th minute after rookie winger Gutherson broke the Tigers’ line on a kick return and Manly led 16-0.
Foran added his second just before the break after Manly worked a set move around the ruck and the Kiwi five-eighth again burst his way through the Tigers’ defence.
Before 13,432 fans, Manly led 22-0 at halftime and, when Gutherson added to that, the game was all but over as a contest in what was Sea Eagles captain Jamie Lyon’s 250th NRL game and Tigers utility Dene Halatau’s 200th.
Tries to Keith Lulia in the 58th minute and Nofoaluma in the 69th added some respectability to the scoreline before Brett Stewart raced away for his 76th try at the venue and 142nd overall.
A Cherry-Evans soccering effort that included lead-up work by Stewart and Foran finished off the win in style.
Tigers winger Pat Richards left the field with an ankle injury in the 18th minute and didn’t return.
Gutherson limped off late in the match, also with an ankle injury.
Tigers skipper Robbie Farah was put on report for a dangerous tackle on Josh Starling in the seventh minute.
Manly back-rower Justin Horo was also put on report for a crusher tackle on Mitchell Moses four minutes later.
Manly coach Geoff Toovey was impressed with the way his side backed up from last week’s below-par effort in their loss to Canterbury.
“We were a lot more committed and a lot more composed,” he said.
“Our execution was a lot better than it has been in previous weeks.
“When we made breaks, we were able to take our opportunities.”
Tigers coach Mick Potter said he couldn’t understand why Hayne didn’t refer Nofoaluma’s possible try to video referees Steve Chiddy and Luke Patten.
“I was watching on the video and, if I was ruling on it, I thought it was a try,” he said.
“The referees have the luxury to be able to call on it, in such a crucial moment of the game.
“It would have taken three seconds and you would have known what the result is.
“Yet for some unknown reason, we don’t use it in that particular instance.
“It just seem ludicrous.”