Alternate Match Preview - We must beat the Mixo Vermin


Journey Man
What an excellent start to the season Manly has had. A gloom and doom merchant like myself has been rendered speechless by a 4 wins in five matches and some high profile scalps taken a long the way. We find ourselves proudly atop the NRL ladder and entering into a game where we are raging hot favourites. It’s been a long time between drinks.

However, let us be under no illusions. Whilst we’ve started well and the form of some of our players has been outstanding, the game this Sunday represents a significant hurdle for the side. A defeat this weekend could be devastating for morale and could have major ramifications for our side as we start to think about finals football. Let’s take a look at the sides clashing this Sunday and the ramifications of this game.

There is much at stake and we would do well to not write the Rabbitohs off easily. If our team arrive at lunchtime on Sunday with any hint of complacency or any thoughts of easy victory we could all be in for a very long afternoon. Here’s why:

This is a different Rabbits side to the one we lapped at North Sydney Oval late last season. For a start Shaun McCrae is a credentialed coach who has instilled some steel into the side over the off season. Don’t be fooled by the Rabbits’ capitulation to the Panthers last weekend. Keep in mind that the previous weekend they had hammered a Newcastle side containing the so-called world’s best player and have also lowered the colours of a Parramatta side in emphatic fashion. When they are hot they are hot, and if they turn up hot to Brookvale it will take all of our resources to keep them in check.

The team has talent. At the beginning of the season a hybrid team of the Manly and Souths sides would probably looks as follows:

1. B Stewart
2. A McDougall
3. S Hegarty
4. T Hill
5. L McDougall
6. M Monaghan
7. J Williams
8. B Kite
9. S Dunley
10. B Fletcher
11. A Harrison
12. S Menzies
13. B Kennedy

Nearly half the side from the Rabbitohs. The stellar form of Watmough in the early part of the season would now probably get him into the side ahead of Harrison and you could make a case for the tireless Heckenberg ahead of an aging Fletcher, but the point remains that they have significant talent and are probably better resourced in the outside backs than we are. They have added size to their squad this year and there could be fireworks up front as the likes of Kite, Heckenberg, Leuluai and King clash with Geddes, Logan and friends. Williams is a slippery customer and our administration chased his signature very hard last year, make no mistake. Hegarty is an experienced international and the Rabbits always seem to play better when Adam McDougall is on hand to eat up yardage as a seventh forward. It is not a side to take lightly.

Then we need to consider our own stocks. I think it highly unlikely that Kennedy will play a major role in this game, if any. Kennedy has been inspirational in recent weeks and his energy and on-field talk have been integral to our success. With Hill still injured we have relied on him to rally the troops and keep the communication going across the defensive line. However, backing up from the Test match on Friday night, it’s hard to imagine that he’ll be asked to play three games in the space of a week, given Manly’s Friday Night Football encounter with the Broncos next round.

Next week could also prove to be a distraction for our players. It has been seven long years since Manly has played in the spotlight of Friday Night Football and there could be a risk that our player’s minds will be on the clash with the Broncos rather than the task at hand.

Our outside backs have performed adequately in recent weeks but they will need to be on their mettle as they’re faced with a sprinkling of international players and quicksilver journeymen. The last time Stephenson faced up to an international centre (in the game against the Dragons) he had a tough night. A report of his shoulder grabbing efforts will be punished by Hegarty and McDougall. He will need to be on his mettle.

Manly’s form in games televised on free-to-air television has been very poor in recent years. Let’s hope that the team can play to the maximum of their capacity this weekend and put the Bunnies to the sword. The mark of a good side is when they’re able to capably take on the lesser sides and conquer them. Narrow escapes do very little for confidence and nothing will prick the current bubble of success than falling to the underdogs from South Sydney this weekend. Manly must win if it is to be considered a force in this year’s competition!

Key match-ups:

Monaghan vs Williams: Monaghan gets to suit up against the man that nearly took his number 7 jumper this season. Both players have been in very good form recently and are integral to their sides fortunes. Whoever emerges on top in this battle is likely to be on the winning team.

Menzies vs Fletcher: A battle of the veterans, both of whom bring much to their side. Menzies is always ready to run into space and find the try line whilst Fletcher plays it tough in the middle and creates opportunities for other runners with his offloads. Menzies would dearly love to walk away from Brookvale with a brace or more of tries.

King versus Logan: Both are big mobile men that will come off the bench after the early exchanges. King is returning from injury and was poor last weekend. Logan is still finding his feet after returning from the English Super League. If either fires up you will see them bending back the opposition defensive line and creating havoc close to the line.
nice write up.

I think Souths will come in with a game plan to win through a good kicking game. I dont think it will work however
I am worried about this game. Souths are dangerous when they turn up to play - something they didn't do last weekend.

Bounce back.
Good report- I think it could be alot closer than most people think as you said.......although they still shouldn't be in the competition ;)
I dont think anyone who has been to the ground would have too much doubt. The Atmosphere there is incredible. If the boys are complacent the crowd will roar them into playing better. Their attitude is so clearly focussed on not dropping a game at home and I have no doubt they wont drop this one
BK seems pretty keen to back up and unless his sustains a bad one during the test he will be there if only for 40 or 50 mins.
How many games did I say before he bacame a 20 minute player :D :lol: :lol:
Great write-up Mata. Great to see you can find time to still write for the AE clan Matabele :clap:
good work.

I think that our boys will come out fired up and ready to play just like the sharks game. With no hoppa to get sent off this time.
I think Brian Fletcher would be amazed to find out that he is now a prop.

Your pre-season hybrid team should probably have Fletch in backrow in place of Harrison, and Cusack in the front row.

I think the key to Souths is their outside backs, Hookey, Hegarty and the Macs, all of whom are pretty reasonable players on their day. Whether they get any good ball will depend on how much pressure we can put on Ben Walker. I'd also watch Hegarty when he gets into dummy half, he can get some good yards off the back of a quick play the ball, bit like Matty Sing.
A loss this weekend would be a disaster for both the team and the club.

We have performed beyond everyones expectations, not even the most one eyed fan would have predicted that we would be atop the NRL ladder after 6 rounds.

If we lose, at our home ground we will be seen in the same light as the horse that leads the Melborne Cup when they first pass the winning post. That horse generally fades away quite quickly and is rareley amongst the leaders at the end of the next lap.

Make no mistakes, this game has a lot more to do than just the two points, losing may well lead to the beginning of slow fall down the ladder.
Corso - couldn't agree more and Mata has hit the nail on the head, make no mistake.

Very important that we come to play and dominate them in the forward exchanges and kick chase. If we win the battle of territory we should come out on top but it will closer than many pundits think!

The talk of 50 etc has me very worried!

if we lose it doesnt mean we are guarenteed the wooden spoon like everyone is now hinting.

If we play like crap again we can be a bit worried but we have seen enought his year to know when our team is out there most of the time they will play well - 50% is all you need to make the finals these days - we should cruise that in.
This is a vital game though Fluffy as all the good work can be undone.

Manly are deservedly where they are on the table but about 80% of league fans seem to think it is a flash in a pan and that we will eventually slide.

Souths are a team that we should beat but we have had surprising trouble over the years against them at Brookie and they have a pretty good record there. As Gould said Souths hate Manly and would like nothing more to surprise us and give us a spanking.

We have been good at losing this sort of game in tha past few seasons. Are we good enough to stay near the top. This game is the first part of the answer!
again i disagree - this season is that up and down that we can lose and still be very good this season. Sure we are expected to win - but so were melbourne.

apply that statement to every other team and the 8 cannot change as all teams have had a loss they shouldnt have so far bar us. id doesnt work. Unless you are trying to put our team under tonnes more pressure than every other team in the NRL
Fluffy I doubt that Beaver and Co are reading AE tonight to see what buffoons like you and I think of our chances against Souths. If they are, heaven help us.

Bottom line is that this is an important game - one we should win. The most important is the next game!

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14 9 5 105 18
12 7 5 80 18
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12 6 6 -66 16
12 5 6 -18 15
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13 6 7 52 14
12 5 7 -49 14
14 6 8 -65 12
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12 3 9 -43 10
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