‘Shocking’: Tom Trbojevic nightmare says it all as Dragons beat Manly

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The Manly Sea Eagles only have themselves to blame after a comically inept performance to lose 20-12 to the St George Illawarra Dragons on Saturday evening.

The Sea Eagles were unlucky not to have started the season 3-0 but were schooled by the Dragons, who were fresh off two spankings after a round one victory.

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Manly were on the rise in 2024 after starting on such a high, having claimed a commanding win in Vegas before downing the Roosters in round two.

But what a difference a fortnight makes, as the side have now dropped to 2-2 for the season, losing a tight one to the Eels last week, before hardly firing a shot against the Dragons.

It was a comedy of errors from the Sea Eagles, who were never in the match, making uncharacteristic mistakes throughout the match.

Nowhere was it more obvious than with 27 minutes left in the match, the Sea Eagles were working their way off their own line.

Having pushed just over the 20, superstar fullback Tom Trbojevic ran out of dummy half, before throwing an obvious forward pass to Haumole Olakau’atu.

“That’s just lazy — Tom, what are you doing?” Greg Alexander said. “He just wasn’t thinking. Olakau’atu had run past him and he still handed it off to him.”

Andrew Voss in commentary was equally stunned.

“That’s worse in replay,” Voss laughed.

“Anthony Seibold is wondering is this a Fine Cotton Scandal, is this the real horse or have I got a fake here? What’s happened here? Is this Tom Trbojevic or is this a double? Cut priced Tom Trbojevic, the Aldi version. He has had …”

Alexander interjected: “After the start he had to the game — he came up with one of the biggest plays we’ve seen all year for a try.”

Alexander was referring to the pass for Tolutau Koula’s try in the third minute, when he drew in several defenders close to the line before passing for the centre to cruise over the line.

Trbojevic didn’t seem himself at all, despite making 158m in 14 runs, as well as producing a line break assist and try assist.

But the stat that was most glaring was four errors.

Incredibly, the Sea Eagles had 53 per cent of possession, but wasted it, completing at just 65 per cent at 27 from 41 sets.

Fans weren’t happy.

“As a manly fan it makes me very sad that I can’t even blame the refs for that shocking performance,” one fan tweeted.

The All Things Rugby League X account added: “Thank god that game is over. Let’s never speak of it again.”

The Sea Eagles had their moments in the game, many of them poor, particularly when dominating field position in the second half, but only managing to add one try to Olakau’atu with just four minutes left in the second half.

Cherry-Evans, who played game 309 and equalled Cliff Lyons’ club record, made two errors including passing the ball into touch.

Speaking after the game, coach Anthony Seibold seemed at a loss for the lacklustre performance.

“I thought we had a good preparation leading into the game but unfortunately in the fundamentals … we let ourselves down,” Seibold said.

“I felt like the Dragons were the better team tonight so we got what we deserved.

“They hustled and bustled us and forced quite a few errors. They were deserved winners and we were second by a fair distance, to be fair.”

It wasn’t much better for the Dragons to be fair with the host also making 15 errors in the match.

But what was pleasing for coach Shane Flanagan was the side’s defensive efforts.

Last week the Dragons led 18-4 after 20 minutes before the Cowboys ran in 42 points in the next 44 minutes.

Flanagan said his side had “nearly put the white flag up” last week, but showed determination against the Sea Eagles to deny the visitors.

“We weren’t that great, especially in the second half, our completion rate was awful,” Flanagan said post-match.

“And we showed some real resilience defensively and kept turning them away.

“To keep the talent in that football side [Manly] to six points, basically for most of the game was a really good job.”

With Matt Cleary, NCA Newswire