Dragons flog Manly in bizarre NRL clash

St George have flogged Manly 52-22 at WIN Stadium to put their NRL finals charge back on track. (AAP)

St George Illawarra flogged Manly 52-22 at WIN Stadium to spark their NRL finals charge, but only after the Sea Eagles launched an unlikely comeback.

St George Illawarra's finals charge is back on track with a 52-22 flogging of Manly, but only after they repelled what threatened to be the biggest comeback in NRL history on Sunday.

The Dragons produced the best first half of any team this year to go 30-0 up, before four Manly tries in the first 16 minutes after the break reduced the margin to eight at WIN Stadium.

Incredibly, three of the Sea Eagles' tries came while they were down to 12 men after prop Darcy Lussick was sin-binned for punching Dragons lock Jack de Belin.

The firebrand Manly prop was also put on report for a possible headbutt.

But when Nene Macdonald leapt high to mark a Daly Cherry-Evans kick to claim a seven-tackle set, the Dragons took complete control.

"That really swung the momentum and we turned it back our way," McGregor said.

"If it goes the other way, they get a try there and we're really under the pump."

Paul Vaughan barged over in the following minute, before Jason Nightingale, Euan Aitken and debutant Matt Dufty helped the Dragons become the first team to pass 50 points this year.

Without injured fullback Josh Dugan, the victory kept the Saints one win ahead of ninth-placed Penrith but now well clear of the chasing pack on for-and-against.

Dugan should be fit to face Newcastle next Saturday, as should Joel Thompson, who rolled his ankle in the warm-up. Tyson Frizell also got through the match, despite also injuring his ankle.

The news wasn't so good for Aitken, who injured his shoulder while scoring a try. He now faces a stint on the sideline.

Manly dropped to sixth, with their top-four hopes in serious strife given Trent Barrett's men face Melbourne and the Sydney Roosters in the next fortnight.

It also marked the first time the Sea Eagles have conceded 50 since August 2005.

"That was embarrassing and I think just the scoreline has an NYC standard," said Barrett, who rested his five-eighth Blake Green and prop Brenton Lawrence due to niggling injuries.

"That's just not up to scratch. Embarrassing."

Halves Josh McCrone and Gareth Widdop were electric for the Dragons in the first half.

McCrone twice kicked for tries to Nightingale and Aitken early, while Widdop also set up two and intercepted a Cherry-Evans pass to run 90 metres and score.

"Our best is the best, and our worst is the worst," McGregor said.

"We've just got to close that gap in between with concentration and self belief sometimes."

However Cherry-Evans played a key role in Manly's second-half fightback, as Akuila Uate, Dylan Walker and Jake Trbojevic all crossed before debutant Joey Lussick darted over from dummy-half.

Source: AAP

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