Great analysis Snake, and it re-lives the pain bit by bit.First 15 mins:
- NRL a joke. Klein sees Keppie stumbling and clearly a HIA concern but due to criticism from week before, plays on.
- Campbell Graham knock-on not called to gift Souths another fatigue inducing set on Manly line.
- Manly start two sets 10m out; one of which contained only 1 run from a forward (Schuster who made 3 metres). Kick inside own half, Souths start multiple sets from 30m and get a 6 to go off a Harper touch after an attacking raid inside our 40m.
- Costly one on one miss on Gagai from Harper after a good read in defence. Gagai kicks for first Bunnies try.
Game was lost in this 15 minute block IMO. No punch with the ball, bombed tries and no line speed to stop Souths marching into good field position. Forwards really struggled in defence during this period.
- finally get the ball and play risky short side with Saab into touch. Needed to hold the ball and build pressure.
- Forwards actually do a good job for next 5 mins. Dylan Walker line speed is excellent.
- DCE earns high shot penalty. We are well in the contest at this point.
- Suli obstruction costs us try (no way Reynolds stops the try but rule is black and white). 6 points begging. We score here and who knows what happens next. Instead, Souths get penalty and start another fatigue inducing set inside our half and earn a repeat set off the back off it.
- Jake gives away set restart after Cook starts playing off back of ruck speed. Forwards starting to look fatigued in D.
- poor read from Saab who didn’t trust Harper leaves open window for Alex J to score. All off the back of weight of possession.
- Haumole steal finally gives us ball. Tom bombs try off back of it. Should be 12-6 and in the game. Instead 7 tackle set with Souths rucking it all the way into our 20 (really poor line speed and a bad read down an edge give Souths opportunity to put in attacking kick and get a lucky 6 more off Haumole failing to clean up grubber). Part luck, part poor defence to concede so many metres. Campbell Graham held up in ensuing set.
- we only manage 30m gain...clearly fatigued. Souths start set in good field position again allowing for an attacking kick. Tom fails to attack bomb, battered back and poor miss from Harper gives Cook the kick for the Walker try.
- one of our better sets with the ball gives Souths ball back inside own 10m zone. However, line speed not great as Reynolds bombs from 40m out and we ruck from own 10m again.
- DCE into touch of risky short side play. Have to say it was probably a good play and just stumbled. Bit of bad luck here. In saying that, at 18-0 down, do we need to throw that offload inside our own half? Still, Souths have good ball again. Thankfully they make an error due to good pressure from Harper and we get ball back.
- earn set restart and poor error from DCE as he is smashed and drops it cold. Souths run 30m and are in attacking field position again.
- really poor read from Suli gifts Paulo try. At 22-0 in a prelim, the game is over.
I could analyse the second half but at 22-0, the game is done at this point and everything else that happens is a by product of score board pressure. The forced Tom T pass to Harper is a classic example. Campbell Graham scored off the back of it. Another poor read from Suli (with help from Foran).
So, I’m gonna retract my criticism of the forwards. I think they played as well as can be expected given the amount of tackling they had to do. It seems the extravagant style of play and lack of composure and leadership cost us more than anything. We simply use the ball too much and go wide too often. Not to mention when you go wide and get shut down, you gotta ruck it back to the middle off long passing to centre the play again...this does not help build momentum.
Imagine, all those errors and panic play on top of an ineffectual forward pack. No wonder it was 22-0 at half time.
If we want to mix it with the big three next year we need some punch in the forwards. Keppie, Paseka and potentially Aloiai can provide this but the latter two were clearly injured, and Keppie was on the floor after 5 minutes. It was never gonna happen.
Schuster was ok but he is clearly weakened by the grind of a full year in 1st grade. but he will definitely be better for the run in 2022. Ola has been a bit hoppy in the second half of the year. He reminds me exactly of Sene-Lafao - tons of mobility and potential but just needs to calm down a touch. he'll be better.
Good thing is next year we have Davey joining us, Bullemoor and maybe Woods who I think will add some of that stability.
We need at least one good centre signing to cover for the departing Suli to provide depth.
In the end, when all is said and done Manly finished the year a respectable 4th and while they didn't go to the next level, they probably achieved the best they possibly could this year. The team got valuable finals experience and that's never a bad thing.
I'll be ready next March for more...