DCE inspires Sea Eagles to thashing of Bulldogs
TRENT Robinson wasn't at Brookvale Oval on Saturday - to the best of our knowledge - but his fingerprints were all over the place.
Daly Cherry-Evans set the hallowed turf alight to guide Manly to a dominant 36-0 victory over Canterbury and Fox Sports commentator Mark Gasnier believes Robinson played a big part in the halfback's starring role.
Not directly, of course, but through second-year Sea Eagles mentor Trent Barrett, who Gasnier said looked to have drawn inspiration from the Roosters' premiership coach.
Cherry-Evans had four try assists in the first half to lead his side to an unbeatable 26-0 lead at the break. He had his fifth with a cheeky, audacious left-foot kick to Akuila Uate in the 79th minute.
Those four assists included a stunning grubber at full speed to set a flying Tom Trbojevic up, but what impressed Gasnier most was the width DCE used to lead the attack.
Cherry-Evans floated across the park in a role Gasnier likened to that of Roosters playmakers Mitchell Pearce and Luke Keary, who have set the benchmark for NRL halves over the opening four rounds.
"The best thing about it is he hasn't sat over on that right-hand side," Gasnier told Fox Sports of DCE.
"You saw there was one set of six where he attacked the goal line, three times he went to different sides of the field.
"I think (Luke) Keary and (Mitchell) Pearce have set the tone in that regard, I think a lot of coaches have looked at that and seen it makes it a lot harder to defend against.
"They'll practice it at training and you watch it develop throughout the year."
North Queensland champion Johnathan Thurston is best known for his ability to drift to either side of the park in attack, and it's a tactic Robinson has employed with his new halves pairing this year.
It's resulted in four straight wins for the Roosters, thanks in large to the form of Pearce and Keary.
Cherry-Evans received a standing ovation from the Brookvale faithful as he left the ground at half-time, also celebrating his 150th NRL appearance.
"The crowd here when they all walked off, a standing ovation, the crowd roaring, and I'm sure it's on the back of the performance from Daly Cherry-Evans," Danny Buderus told Fox Sports.
"He's their man, he's the one that's going to stand up and take their club forward, along with (Jake) Trbojevic.
"He's been everywhere, he's played with a bit of structure but also playing some ad-lib."