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Match Report - Round 6 2005

Eagles flex new muscle
By Dean Ritchie - www.news.com.au
18/4/2005

MANLY forward Anthony Watmough yesterday continued his bold surge for a New South Wales State of Origin position after revealing he had radically changed his entire approach to rugby league.

Watmough was again among the Dally M Medal points with a robust performance in Manly's win over Canberra before more than 17,000 fans yesterday afternoon.

The victory takes Manly - developing and maturing each week into a quality football side - to equal first on the NRL competition table.

The Sea Eagles' new-found grunt and thump comes thanks to Watmough and new buy Ben Kennedy.

Watmough said after the match he sat down during summer and wanted to alter his game, including a stronger mental approach.

"No more slacking off," Watmough said. "I wanted to have a real dig in matches. I wasn't training 100 per cent and was doing just enough to get by.

"Now I am doing extra work and it is paying off.

"I also wanted to get tougher mentally. I had been weak mentally, I felt.

"I don't want my mind telling when I'm tired.

"It's easy to stand up when things are easy but I now want to put my hand up when things are tough.

"I sat back and thought, 'I am only in this game for a short while, I want to get as much out of it as I can'."

Watmough is getting plenty out of rugby league in season 2005.

With a new attitude and body shape, Watmough is pounding opposition sides in defence and offence.

Yesterday he ploughed into the Raiders, earning praise from coach Des Hasler.

"Anthony is trying to get consistency into his game," Hasler said.

"He has been outstanding this season. He has made an impact for us every week."

Canberra, unbeaten before yesterday, led 8-6 at halftime but could not hold back a relentless tidal wave of Manly skill and tenacity during the second half.

The Sea Eagles scored three tries in the opening 13 minutes of the second half to lead 22-8 and virtually kill off the Raiders' chances.

Adding to Canberra's problems is a sternum injury to Jason Smith.

He could miss several weeks through the injury but may also face a suspension.

Smith, who scored Canberra's first try yesterday, was placed on report by referee Jason Robinson in the 15th minute yesterday for a dangerous throw on Watmough.

"He is in a fair bit of pain and discomfort," Canberra coach Matt Elliott said of Smith's injury.

Manly scored late tries in the 71st, 75th and 78th minutes to clinch their fourth win from five matches.

Canberra finished the game with 12 men after fullback Clinton Schicofske was sin-binned late for a professional foul.

The Sea Eagles absolutely deserved their win but the Raiders did face a heavy penalty count against them and were behind 6-1 midway through the first half.

Kennedy was a juggernaut again although he did suffer a second-half injury while fullback Brett Stewart scored two tries.

Stewart is a wonderful prospect and looks to have the Manly fullback position secure for a long, long time.

Halfback Michael Monaghan scored a try and assisted in two others.

The game had several fights but all the talk centred on Manly's win, their seventh in succession at Brookvale Oval.

"It was a good win after last week (a loss to St George-Illawarra). We did it and did it pretty convincingly," Hasler said.

"There are some good signs this early in the season but there is still a lot of improvement there for us."

Manly 36: (B Stewart 2, S Matai, M Monaghan, S Harris, S Donald, S Menzies tries; M Witt 4 goals).

Canberra 14: (J Smith, M Adamson tries; C Schifcofske 3 goals).

Referee: Jason Robinson

Crowd: 17,061.

TEAM:

Brett Stewart
Scott Donald
Steve Mattai
Paul Stephenson
Chris Hicks
Michael Witt
Michael Monaghan
Ben Kennedy
Anthony Watmough
Steve Menzies
Daniel Heckenberg
Luke Williamson
Brent Kite
Jason King
Kylie Leuluai
Sam Harris
Shayne Dunley