Manly erased the disappointment of losing last year's grand final with a decisive 20-8 defeat of St George at the Sydney Football Stadium yesterday. Hot favourites for the second year running, the Sea Eagles were under enormous pressure to produce the goods after last year's shock loss to Canterbury. But there were no slip-ups by Manly this time, with Bob Fulton's team scoring a decisive three tries to one win. The Sea Eagles, who went into the game with full-back Matthew Ridge and half-back Geoff Toovey carrying head injuries and centre Terry Hill playing with a damaged ankle, were still too good for a Saints team that overcame huge odds to reach the grand final. Manly lived up to their reputation as the best defensive side in the world to ensure they became the 1996 premiers. 'This makes up for last year,' Manly captain and Man of the Match Toovey said. 'There was a lot of pressure on us and we couldn't afford to miss out again. 'This wasn't our best game but we've won the title and that's all that counts.' There were plenty of talking points in Manly's win, especially one controversial try to second-rower Steve Menzies on the stroke of half-time. The try came seconds after Ridge was held in a tackle by Saints hooker Nathan Brown, but remarkably referee David Manson allowed him to get up and run again without playing the ball. 'That was a cruel ruling and really hurt us,' Saints coach Davis Waite said. 'We would have been happy going to half-time at 8-2 down but their try made it 14-2 and gave us a lot more work to do.' Manly charged to a 20-2 lead early in the second half when winger Danny Moore crossed and a cricket score looked on the cards. But Saints showed plenty of courage - the club's trademark throughout the 1996 season - scoring the only try of the final 20 minutes. Having lost several star players, their coach and major sponsor shortly before the season kicked off, Saints were tipped to finish well down the ladder. But the Dragons roared into the finals and then won three sudden death games to earn their grand final spot, winning plenty of praise for their efforts. Manly coach Bob Fulton said: 'What Saints have achieved has been excellent. They had a lot of obstacles placed in their path over the season but overcame them all and gave us a worthy challenge.' Manly's win was their first since 1987, while Saints have now lost their past four grand finals. Meanwhile, Manly players received a bonus for their grand final win when six Sea Eagles were chosen for next week's Test against Papua New Guinea. Skipper Toovey, Brad Fittler, Mark Carroll, Daniel Gartner, Hill, Menzies and Jim Serdaris were picked along with Wayne Bartrim and Mark Coyne from grand final losers St George.