Talakai runs riot as Sharks down Manly

A rampaging Siosifa Talakai has single-handedly led Cronulla to a 34-22 victory over Manly, scoring two tries and setting up three up others in one of the great individual performances of the NRL season.

In front of a crowd of 9611 at Shark Park on Thursday night, burly centre Talakai finished the evening with a remarkable statline which read: 241 running metres and 11 tackle busts to go with his two tries and three assists.

His impact was so devastating that unfortunate opposing centre Morgan Harper was hooked at half-time and replaced by rookie Tolutau Koula after missing six tackles.

Manly did rally after they trailed 32-0 at half-time but by then the damage had been done.

The loss ended the Sea Eagles' four-game winning streak as Cronulla strengthened their grip on third spot on the ladder.

In a start which set the tone for the night, Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans dropped the first-half kick-off and was bundled into the in-goal.

Off the next set the Sharks swung the ball wide to Talakai on the left edge and he ran through a gaping hole in between Harper and winger Jason Saab for his first try.

His second came from a nearly identical set play, the only difference was this time Talakai barged Harper aside with ease before crashing over the line.

The Sharks' man continued his path of destruction by turning provider for Ronaldo Mulitalo.

His first assist for the winger was a flick back on the inside with Mulitalo burrowing over the line from close range before Talakai then kept Saab guessing and sent Mulitalo diving in at the corner.

His third try assist of the night was his most impressive and brought the home crowd to its feet.

Talakai received the ball on the halfway line, charged 40 metres upfield and then stabbed a grubber across in goal for Sharks fullback Will Kennedy to dot down near the posts.

Teig Wilton barged over on the stroke of half-time to put Cronulla 32-0 up after Manly had been reduced to 12 men when Haumole Olakau'atu was sent to the sin bin for a high shot on Aiden Tolman.

But the Cronulla side that appeared after the break was markedly different as a torrential downpour engulfed Shark Park.

The passes which had been sticking suddenly weren't and Christian Tuipulotu and Taniela Paseka both crossed for Manly to cut the deficit.

Paseka's night was over shortly after when he succumbed to a knee injury but Lachlan Croker and Olakau'atu both responded to reduce Cronulla's lead to 10 points heading into the final 15 minutes.

In the last five minutes of the game, Olakau'atu conceded a penalty for tackling Talakai without the ball with stand-in captain Nicho Hynes converting to nullify Manly's hopes of a comeback.