Manly has climbed above Parramatta on the ladder after embarrassing the Eels with a 56-10 victory on the Sunshine Coast.
In Saturday’s earlier matches, South Sydney defeated Gold Coast 36-6, and Wests Tigers triumphed 24-16 against North Queensland.
At Sunshine Coast Stadium, the Eels turned in an insipid display against the Sea Eagles as they sunk to a fourth-straight loss.
The result catapulted Manly above Parramatta in the NRL’s top-four race, with the Sea Eagles now one win behind the Sydney Roosters in fifth place.
The Eels slipped to sixth on the ladder, atlhough they have an eight-point buffer over the seventh-placed Titans.
Tom Trbojevic was again brilliant for Manly with five try assists and a four-pointer of his own, while Daly Cherry-Evans booted the Eels into submission.
Winger Reuben Garrick also finished with a hat-trick of tries, as he overtook Matthew Ridge for the most prolific point-scoring season in the Sea Eagles’ history.
In an end to the match that summed up their current plight, the Eels spent part of the second half with just 11 players after Marata Niukore was sin-binned for a professional foul.
It came after teammate Ryan Matterson was sent off for a shoulder charge that connected directly with Brad Parker’s head.
Parker left the field but later recovered in the Sea Eagles’ dressing room, while Matterson is expected to face a lengthy suspension.
In their few chances on the Sea Eagles’ line, the Eels either coughed the ball up or kicked it over the dead-ball line on six occasions.
Their only first-half try came through a neat flick pass from Matterson to Tom Opacic to make the score 26-4 at the break, before Waqa Blake grabbed one late from a Dylan Brown grubber kick.
But otherwise the Eels completed at just 68 per cent and desperately missed Reed Mahoney’s clean passing out of dummy half.
They conceded 16 linebreaks and missed 34 tackles, as Cherry-Evans and Trbojevic cut them to shreds.
Manly had scored twice before the Eels even had a play-the-ball through tries to Parker and Garrick, fittingly from a Cherry-Evans grubber kick and Trbojevic cut-out ball.
Jason Saab also scored a try and set up another for Trbojevic, with the latter coming after Cherry-Evans had put him into space with a brilliant cut-out ball.
The highlight of the night from Trbojevic came when he offloaded as he fell close to the line during the second half, putting 18th man Moses Suli over.
It was the fifth match in which Manly has scored 50 points this season.
The Sea Eagles’ only concern from the match against the Eels was Josh Aloiai being put on report for a shoulder charge.
Rabbitohs make history against Titans
South Sydney has created Australian rugby league history, becoming the only first-grade team to score 30 or more points in eight straight matches following a thrashing of Gold Coast.
The high-flying Rabbitohs made it 10 wins in a row as they romped to a convincing victory over the Titans in Robina.
With halves Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker dominant, the Rabbitohs were out of sight by half-time as they charged to a 24-0 lead at the break.
Coach Wayne Bennett admitted his team’s intensity dropped in the second half as the third-placed Rabbitohs’ attentions started to turn towards a much-anticipated clash with second-placed Penrith next week.
“It was pretty good first half. Second half got hard to watch,” Bennett said.
“We haven’t been doing it too much.
“Three games to go in the season. They know they’ve got a lot of big games in front of them so I understood pretty much what happened in the second half.
Reynolds ended the game with 16 points, while Braidon Burns and Josh Mansour both scored doubles for the rampant Rabbitohs.
Walker’s three try assists take his tally to 34 this season, just six behind the all-time record for that stat by Parramatta’s Tim Smith in 2005.
The Rabbitohs’ other key attacking weapon Latrell Mitchell opened the scoring with his 10th try of the season and finished the match with seven tackle busts, a try assist and 174 run metres including 33 post-contact metres.
The Titans’ only joy was winger Corey Thompson capping off a slick backline move in the 66th minute as their three-match winning run came to a shuddering halt.
Wests Tigers hold off Cowboys
Wests Tigers remain in the finals hunt after a lacklustre win over North Queensland in Townsville.
Securing back-to-back wins for just the second time this season, the Tigers ground out a vital win and consigned the Cowboys to their ninth straight loss.
Adam Doueihi was instrumental in attack and perfect off the tee, kicking four from four on the night.
He finished with one try assist and five tackle busts, while halves partner Luke Brooks was a calming presence in the final third and had two try assists of his own.
Second-half tries to Kelma Tuilagi and Tommy Talau and to a Tigers double in the first half in a match where the Cowboys failed to execute despite dominating territory.
Late consolation tries to Tom Dearden and Ben Hampton in the final 10 minutes brought a glimmer of hope to the crowd of 12,663, but it was all too late as the Tigers held on to stay within two points of the top eight.
The opening half was an error-strewn display, and it was the Tigers who took a 12-6 lead into the sheds with neither team properly capitalising on deep attacking opportunities.
Handling errors in the final third cost both sides as their errors totalled 15 between them.
The visitors made the most of two penalties awarded in their own half, scoring back-to-back tries through Stefano Utoikamanu and Ken Maumalo in the seventh and 19th minutes.
Their first was a bulldozing run by the prop who powered through the Cowboys goal-line defence, before a set play to their left edge found Maumalo diving out wide to score on the wing.
Michael Maguire’s side looked set to keep the Cowboys scoreless heading into half-time but then the Cowboys scored one of the most bizarre tries of 2021.
Dearden skewed a bomb 40 metres out, the ball bouncing fortuitously to Kyle Feldt who then toed a kick to centre field where Reece Robson gathered and offloaded to Griffin Neame, who passed to fellow debutant Jeremiah Nanai to score.
But that would be their only try until the 73rd minute and the Tigers held on to see out the result.