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Discussion in 'Rugby League Forum' started by Berkeley_Eagle, Oct 16, 2011.

  1. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan

    +2,125 /14
    Wins: 18
    Losses: 6
    Position: 2nd
    Home Record: 11 wins, 1 loss
    Away Record: 7 wins, 5 losses
    Longest Winning Streak: 6 (Rounds 9-15)
    Longest Losing Streak: 1 (Six times – Rounds 1, 4, 8, 16, 21 and 26)
    Players Used: 25 (fewest)
    Tries Scored: 4.1 per game (most)
    Tries Conceded: 2.6 per game (third most)

    Wins: 3
    Losses: 0
    Position: 1st

    Does it get better than this for the Sea Eagles? The answer, after a sublime 2011 season that ended in premiership glory, is a definite ‘no’. This year Manly showcased a complete all-round playing package and consistency throughout a measured, relentless and ultimately successful title assault.

    In 2011 a refreshed Manly demonstrated why they qualify as one of, if not the greatest teams of the modern era – a professional unit determined to complete the job at hand no matter what the circumstances. And complete the task they did and more – throughout the season Manly displayed an unrivalled consistency throughout all facets of the game despite a range of off-field distractions. On the field, in attack the Sea Eagles were peerless, recording an average of 22.5 points scored (ranked first) and 4.1 tries scored (ranked first) throughout the regular season. In defence they were brilliant, too – in fact only once did a team score more than 24 points against Manly (the Rabbitohs beat the Sea Eagles 32-30 in Round 4). The Sea Eagles kept a close grip on their opponents throughout the regular season, conceding the fewest metres (averaging just 1270 per match – ranked first) alongside fewest points (averaging 13.8 – ranked second), tries (averaging 2.6 – ranked third) and missed tackles (averaging 30.1 – ranked second fewest). That outstanding combination of killer attack and deadly defence was something coach Des Hasler and his team brought into the finals series, choking, stifling and out-thinking the Cowboys, Broncos and Warriors to reclaim the NRL trophy that was last theirs in 2008.

    Where They Excelled: The Sea Eagles showed once again they are a deadly unit with the ball in hand. Few teams truly contained the Manly attacking force – it’s often the case when a team wins almost 80 per cent of its matches! Only the Broncos (Round 26), Dragons (Round 16) and the Storm (Round 1) kept the Sea Eagles on the back foot during the regular season, conceding 10 points or less in their victories over this year’s premiership winners. But opposition victories were few and far between, and Manly methodically carved up a host of teams through the regular season and finals series.

    Playing with style and substance, Manly used the dynamic attacking skills of experienced centre Jamie Lyon, electric try-scorer Brett Stewart, the size, skill and speed of Will Hopoate and Tony Williams, and the deft playmaking skills of new scrum-base combination Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans to rip through numerous opponents – the Manly mob scored 30 points or more against the Cowboys (Finals Week One), Roosters (Round 22), Knights (Round 19), Rabbitohs (Round 18), Bulldogs (Round 13) and Broncos (Round 12).

    No matter where they were on the park and what the game situation, the entire squad’s range of skills – from front row to fullback – ensured they were a chance of scoring a try... and often, even against the run of play, they did just that. One only has to think back to the grand final, when lock Glenn Stewart grubbered across field inside his own territory to set up the try that broke open the decider.

    Where They Struggled: Statistically, Manly struggled in no area in 2011. Throughout the season they performed in an ultra-consistent, always-more-than-competitive fashion. In fact, at no stage in 2011 did the Sea Eagles record back-to-back losses – such was their professional preparation, attitude and performance. They, on that basis alone, are deserved winners of the 2011 Telstra NRL Premiership.

    Missing In Action: At various stages of the season Manly were impacted by injury and/or suspension; however, Jason King’s season-ending pectoral injury aside, thankfully for the Brookvale boys nothing proved overly serious. Unfortunately for King, he sustained his injury in August against the Roosters and missed the rest of his team-mates’ march to the title.

    Most worrying for Sea Eagles fans were two incidents late in their 2011 campaign, which both occurred in the controversial Round 25 clash with the Storm. In that match-up popular winger David ‘Wolfman’ Williams sustained a serious neck injury – something even his opponents acknowledged and supported even as the former international searched for the try line. (The image of Billy Slater nursing Williams in his arms, after the tackle was complete, is likely one of the best examples of sportsmanship from this year’s competition.) Scans later revealed Williams had broken his neck after suffering a fracture of the sixth vertebrae, likely to sideline him until at least early in the 2012 season.

    In that same match, Glenn Stewart and Storm star Adam Blair were involved in a nasty sideline punch-up that threatened to spill over into an all-in melee – an incident that attracted unwanted headlines for weeks. Stewart was suspended for three matches for his involvement in the Brookvale brawl, and would only return if his team-mates progressed to the grand final. Ultimately they did, Stewart put on another match-winning display and led his side to their eighth title triumph, claiming the Clive Churchill Medal as the best on field in the decider.

    Turning Point: The Sea Eagles’ victory in their match with the Storm in Round 25 – where the league’s two standout teams quite literally went blow for blow – provided Manly with the confidence and motivation to go all the way in 2011. At that point Melbourne looked on track for premiership success, having shored up the minor premiership and beaten their closest rivals in Round 1 earlier in the season.

    For Manly, this was personal – a measure of where the club was truly at and if each individual was good enough to get the job done with the finals series just two weeks away. In the match the Sea Eagles simply outplayed, out-thought and out-muscled their highly favoured (albeit Cooper Cronk-less) opposition – and they gained the belief that if they kept on track the 2011 premiership could very well be theirs if they wanted it.

    Best Games: Manly were, as the statistics indicate, brilliant throughout the regular season, but it was in the finals series where they truly hit their straps and unleashed a world of pleasure for their fans and pain for their opponents. In Finals Week One against the Cowboys, the Sea Eagles overcame a slow start to score 42 points in the second half and earn a week off.

    It was Manly at their blistering best – a series of brilliant backline movements, shifts via hands and deft ball-playing skills. North Queensland just couldn’t answer. It was a similar story against the Broncos two weeks later, although this time Manly’s defence was the biggest talking point, Brisbane battling to break through a line that at times looked impregnable. And, most importantly, Manly saved their best for last in the 2011 grand final – a dogged, disciplined and delightful effort in attack and defence that’ll have fans smiling until kick-off next season.

    Worst Games: It’s very rare a team lasts an entire season without a few shocking efforts... but the Sea Eagles don’t have many performances to write up as ‘disastrous’. Manly’s largest loss in 2011 was their Round 16 defeat at the hands of the Dragons at WIN Stadium in Monday Night Football. In that game Manly uncharacteristically just couldn’t take advantage of their opportunities – they enjoyed 56 per cent of possession in total and made 60 fewer tackles than the Dragons. A poor performance, yes, but one that steeled the club in the run to the finals series and ultimately provided them with a reality check before the season entered crunch time.

    Hold Your Head High: Not one member of the Sea Eagles’ squad had a poor season. Of particular mention are boom young playmakers Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans – during the season both emerged as classy creators as well as gifted generals. Foran excelled at stand-off – the No.6 relishing a role that saw him both challenge the line and provide quality service to his experienced outside men.

    The Kiwi five-eighth in waiting clocked up 17 try assists and 13 line-break assists, a sign of unselfish play and quality service. Cherry-Evans, an inclusion in the Kangaroos squad, made his debut in Round 1 this season and took advantage of the opportunity to play every minute of the season. His game also revolves around a willingness to attack the defensive line (registering 111 tackle-breaks and nine line-breaks), as well as a deft passing and kicking game (resulting in 19 try assists and 10 line-break assists). Manly’s title success rested at the foot of those young stars who displayed a willingness to listen, learn and improve their games, as well as the tactical nous and intestinal fortitude to order their more experienced team-mates around the field.

    The Sea Eagles were also well served by their other reliable regulars, including star strike centre Jamie Lyon, the ever-brilliant Brett Stewart, the complete footballer Glenn Stewart and tireless back-rower Anthony Watmough, who all played significant roles in their team’s title triumph. In fact, the overall Manly squad – arguably the most balanced side of the past 10 seasons – performed almost perfectly throughout 2011, the reason why five members of their line-up (Watmough, the Stewarts, barn-storming impact man Tony Williams and Cherry-Evans) were included in the 24-man Kangaroos squad for the upcoming Four Nations.

    Coach Des Hasler says: “I can't fault these boys – great culture, great club. I'm so proud of this side and am so proud of the Manly club. Grand finals don't come around often. They are very difficult to make and very difficult to win.”

    Conclusion: A great season for Manly who pushed aside a whole raft of controversies to take league’s most decorated prize. They came, they soared and conquered a wave of anti-Manly sentiment from across Australia and New Zealand. And with just a few off-season changes (outside backs Hopoate and Michael Robertson depart, as does forward Shane Rodney), the chances of them doing that again – and recording back-to-back premiership victories, the first in a unified competition since Brisbane in 1992-1993 – are very real.



    Sea Eagles season review
    Paul Johnson
    5/10/2011 12:24:40 PM
    Written off by countless pundits pre-season and left out of just about every journalists top eight, the Sea Eagles would embark on a tour de force in season 2011, one that would culminate in the club winning their eighth premiership to become the equal fifth most successful club in the history of the game.

    Des Hasler’s men were rewarded for their efforts too, with plenty of players selected in Tim Sheens’s Kangaroos squad, but what happened throughout the year to make it so special?

    We take a look back at the highlights of Manly’s 2011 season.

    Best team performance

    Struggling with poor ball handling and with a lack of real attacking impetus leaving them down 8-0 at the break, Manly came out a completely different team in the second half of their qualifying final against the Cowboys.

    Will Hopoate started the rout in the 48th minute and bagged a double, as did Brett Stewart in what was a stellar team performance.

    The boys broke a finals point scoring record and completer all bar one set of six in the second half.

    Jamie Lyon also broke through 11 tackles in the match, not a bad night’s work.

    Best individual performance

    Rookie half, huge game, injured, retiring legend, grand final appearance hinging on it… could Daly Cherry-Evans handle the pressure?

    You bet he could. Cherry-Evans was electric against the Broncos in the preliminary final and he gave their defence fits, whether he was running the ball or kicking it.

    The performance caused Johnathan Thurston to proclaim him the future Queensland halfback and with two try assists and 10 tackle busts, it wasn’t hard to see why.

    The disappointment

    It’s hard to find one in what was a stellar season, and although a lot of fans and the news networks loved the footage, the Brookie brawl against Melbourne gave the game a black eye.

    Season high point

    Pretty simple really, winning the NRL Premiership. It brought ‘closure’ to a number of issues and gave the entire squad and Manly’s fans what they deserved for all their hard work and support over the last few years.

    The leader

    With Jason King suffering a season-ending pectoral injury it was up to co-captain Jamie Lyon to lead from the front and ‘Killer’ certainly didn’t disappoint.

    Often underrated, Lyon cemented his place as a ‘big game’ player with dominant performances in each of Manly’s finals appearances, he also made the most tackles of any Manly outside back throughout the finals.

    The rookie

    What hasn’t been written about Daly Cherry-Evans? The young halfback was named NRL Rookie of the Year and capped his season with a Premiership and selection in the Kangaroos squad.

    Only Jamie Soward kicked for more metres gained than Cherry-Evans throughout the year, the rookie half was ranked eighth in the NRL for try assists with 19 and eighth for tackle breaks with 111.

    Stats leader

    Anthony Watmough was up there in several categories for the club, including leading the club for metres gained with 2896, he was also third in tackles made with 769 and third in offloads made with 29.

    Try of the year

    It’s that man again - Daly Cherry-Evans scored a great team try in round 12 against the Broncos when a falling Brett Stewart scooped up a Kieran Foran kick and flicked it to the halfback who would touchdown for a great try.



    Manly (first)
    Season rating: 10/10 – a dominant season in a year not many expected them to shine.

    What went right: It was a season that ended perfectly and, for the most part, was a honeymoon experience from start to finish. The Sea Eagles reinforced themselves as one of the toughest teams in the NRL; no side was more miserly in metres allowed (1258 pg), while also scoring more points (23.4 pg) and tries (4.2 pg) than any other team. Forced to forge their second new halves combination in as many years, Manly didn’t miss a beat, welcoming Daly Cherry-Evans into the fold while also benefitting from having a mostly healthy Brett Stewart at the back.

    What went wrong: On the field, not a lot. However the club seemed unable to get out of their own way when it came to dealing with the NRL and rugby league public at large away from the game. From the ongoing Stewart saga and Des Hasler’s beef with the administration, Manly gave neutral fans all the more reason to dislike them in 2011.

    Standout performer: Glenn Stewart. With three rounds remaining, Stewart led the way in the Dally M Medal count. While his part in the Brookvale Brawl scuppered any hope of winning the top honour, the fact remains he was close to, if not the top player in 2011. A stunning back half to the season showcased his equally sublime ball-running and ball-playing abilities, making him the most dangerous forward in the game. On return from suspension, his Clive Churchill Medal seemed justified.

    Crystal ball: No team have repeated in a unified competition for almost two decades now, however Manly appear the most likely to come close. With Des Hasler at the helm for at least one more year, and with the nucleus of the side sticking together, only injury or similar unforeseen circumstances could stop the Sea Eagles being the major force of the 2012 premiership. Protect Cherry-Evans from the pitfalls of second-year syndrome, and Manly may be on the precipice of history.

  2. Earnie the Eagle

    Earnie the Eagle Well-Known Member

    +359 /16
    Thank you for posting this, you have done a lot of work.
  3. manlyforever08

    manlyforever08 Active Member

    +103 /0
    They'll be one on LeagueUnlimited in the next month that I have written. I'll post it here when it's up online!

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