PM disappointed as Manly down his Sharks
Manly have put a dampener on Scott Morrison's election celebrations with a resounding 24-14 NRL win over the Prime Minister's beloved Cronulla.
Less than 24 hours after being returned to power, the PM and proud Sharks fan was at PointsBet Stadium hoping for another win to complete the perfect weekend.
But there was no election-style "miracle" comeback from Cronulla after gifting Manly a match-winning 20-point lead inside the opening 45 minutes.
A fortnight out from the series opener is usually the time for representative hopefuls to press their State of Origin claims.
But NSW coach Brad Fittler, commentating from the sideline, may well have ruled a line through Josh Morris's name after the veteran centre's terrible one-on-one defensive miss allowed Manly fullback Brendan Elliot to bag the visitors' second try.
Nor will Fittler likely be calling on fellow former Blues stalwart Josh Dugan to answer NSW's centre crisis.
Playing fullback, Dugan was disappointing.
His reluctance to attack the ball directly cost Cronulla one try - to Dylan Walker in his first match back from suspension after being cleared in the courts of domestic violence - and almost another as the Sea Eagles' backline of misfits put the Sharks to the sword.
The likes of Elliot, unsung winger Reuben Garrick and halfback Kane Elgey are all playing inspired football under Des Hasler in the dual premiership-winning coach's first season back at the helm.
Hasler was also forced to hand rookie five-eighth Cade Cust his NRL debut after Lachlan Croker was scratched on Saturday with a hamstring injury.
"So isn't it great to see a young kid like Cade Cust step up. A Scone boy. A great story actually," Hasler said.
"There were a lot of good performances today and Shark Park's always difficult to play at so it's good to come away with another win.
"And they're important two points because the table is starting to jam up a bit."
It was first-half tries to Elliot and Elgey, as well as one from prop Addin Fonua-Blake and then Walker's just after the break that gave Manly their 24-4 lead.
Replies from Braden Hamlin-Uele and Sosaia Feki gave the Sharks hope with 10 minutes remaining.
But, unlike Mr Morrison on Saturday night, there was no great escape as Manly's sixth win of the year elevated the Sea Eagles - who many tipped to challenge for the wooden spoon - to the cusp of the top four.
Defeat sent the Sharks crashing out of the top eight and the return of injured stars Matt Moylan, Shaun Johnson, Wade Graham and Aaron Woods can't come quick enough for coach John Morris.
"It's pretty deflating," Morris said of Cronulla's 16th loss from their past 18 clashes with Manly.
"We just couldn't get going.
"The first half cost us. We won the second half 10-6, but the damage was done early."