With September just around the corner, Parramatta were shell-shocked by a ruthless Manly outfit.
Eels coach Brad Arthur believes his side’s “down on belief”, and they’ll need to do some soul searching following the 56-10 defeat if they’re to make an impact come finals time.
Holes in the Parramatta defence were unforgivingly exposed early as the Sea Eagles piled on five tries before the half-hour mark.
Brad Parker kickstarted the assault, pouncing on Daly Cherry-Evans’ grubber deep in the in-goal after it caught a Parramatta hand.
Minutes later they had two on the board with Reuben Garrick finishing Tom Trbojevic’s audacious harbour-bridge floater.
The pair would be potent throughout the night.
Garrick shattered Matthew Ridge’s club record for most points in a season with a 28-point performance that included a treble of tries and eight conversions; while Trbojevic finished with a try, four try assists, five line-break assists and 187 run metres.
Trbojevic’s try would come in the 20th minute off the back of a Jason Saab run having been released by Cherry-Evans.
Another superb floater saw Garrick cross the stripe for his second, this one having left the hands Kieran Foran.
Sky-high on confidence, Garrick set off on a blazing run down the left edge minutes later, turning Eels inside-out before trusting Dylan Walker with the finishing duties.
26-0 down, the Eels got on the board late in the opening half courtesy of a superb flick from Ryan Matterson and strong fend-off from Tom Opacic on his way to the in-goal.
Looking to restore some respect in their performance, Parramatta did themselves no favours with an error-riddled start to the second half.
Still, they repelled Manly’s efforts until the 58th minute, the half-hour try scoring drought broken by young-gun Jason Saab.
Just minutes later, Parramatta’s Ryan Matterson was sent off for a high-shot on Brad Parker.
It would be the catalyst for an onslaught as the floodgates were flung open.
Some Tom Trbojevic magic produced his side’s seventh try, forcing the ball to 18th man Moses Suli – introduced after Parker was ruled out – who lunged over with his second touch of the Steeden.
And as if the Eels’ night couldn’t get any worse, a brain-lapse professional foul from Marata Niukore saw the second-rower sin-binned.
Parramatta was reduced to 11 players, a two-man disadvantage, and they paid the price.
It was almost hard to watch as Tom Trbojevic and Co. disassembled the helpless Eels defence with an ease that bordered on arrogance.
Not even expecting to play when he arrived at Sunshine Coast Stadium, Suli walked over for his double, Trbojevic adding to his growing tally of try assists in the process.
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Haumole Olakau’atu crossed the stripe soon after and Garrick brought up Manly’s half-century with his seventh conversion of the night.
But Garrick wasn’t done there, superbly collecting a wayward Trbojevic pass and juggling his way to a strong finish in the right corner to secure his hattrick.
Parramatta picked up a consolation try through the boot of Dylan Brown and finishing touch of Waqa Blake, but it did little to quell the blue and gold angst of a diabolical night on the Sunshine Coast.
Conversely, the Sea Eagles are firing on all cylinders as they motor into September ready to shake-up the finals series.