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For Manly, grand final revenge hinges on self-belief

Discussion in 'Rugby League Forum' started by Berkeley_Eagle, Apr 9, 2008.

  1. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan

    +2,125 /14
    For Manly, grand final revenge hinges on self-belief

    Andrew Stevenson | April 9, 2008
    NEAR the end of last season, Anthony Watmough was in the best form of his career, and when Ben Kennedy said the nuggety second-rower should be one of the first forwards picked for Australia, no one laughed.

    Then came the grand final, when the Storm put so many points on Manly it made their heads spin, and Watmough's arms did turnstiles in defence as the Sea Eagles ended a great season on a sour note. Any thoughts of adding to his one Origin cap from 2005 sunk with his side.

    Now he is prepared to be up front about last year's decider.

    "I know personally my grand final wasn't the best game I could have played," Watmough said. "I definitely didn't do many things right and did a lot of things wrong. But that's the good thing about football - there's always another game to play."

    The only problem is that another game is not just any other game. This Friday Manly fly into their tormentors' lair, facing the Storm at Olympic Park.

    Melbourne have had an uncharacteristically inconsistent start to the year, winning only two from four, including a rare home loss to Cronulla (17-16) in round two, and will be intent on making a clear statement to their rivals - and the rest of the competition - about where they stand.

    Manly, coming off an unimpressive showing against Souths last Sunday, have a turnaround two days shorter than Melbourne's. To make matters worse, they have never won in Melbourne. But it's not just cold, windy and hostile at Olympic Park. No Manly players wants to speak of a grand final rematch but, between the lines, it's clear the demons born of the 34-8 touch-up are yet to be slayed.

    "You'd be lying if you didn't go down there feeling a little bit vulnerable," conceded Watmough. "I think there were a few scars [after the grand final] for the first couple of weeks but when we got back to training, Dessie [coach Des Hasler] said we've just got to move on and prepare for this year."

    As much as Hasler might like to treat the Storm encounter as just another match, the players know it's not so. But it's not revenge that counts so much as taking a measure of themselves - personally and as a team.

    Watmough acknowledges it's a chance to show off, all the more so because NSW Origin coach Craig Bellamy will be sitting in the Storm's coaching box. "Especially down in Melbourne on a Friday night - people are going to be watching. You always want to play your best footy but it would be good to do it against the defending premiers - especially with selection coming around the corner for rep teams," he said.

    Prop Brent Kite echoed the theme. "They're definitely still the team to beat as far as '08 goes," he said. "I'm just looking at it that way; if we want to do well in this competition we have to try and knock off all the top sides, and Melbourne is right at the top."

    While the Storm backs win all the raps, Kite knows the engine-room tussle will be crucial. With new recruit Josh Perry - likely to back up after suffering an adductor strain last weekend - Kite will be seeking to lead from the front.

    "They're big boppers [the Storm forwards] - big strong guys - but they all seem to have a little bit of feet so they get into space and work their elbows and knees and then Cameron Smith drives it down long and it's really game on from there: how you're going to bring it out from your end and how long you can keep it up for."

    No one in the Manly camp would confess to having watched the grand final on replay. "Maybe in 20 or 30 years' time," suggested halfback and captain Matt Orford.

    "My memories of the grand final were when we walked out, linked arms and sang the national anthem and looked up and there were 80,000 people there. That was the highlight of my night."
  2. Ryan

    Ryan Well-Known Member

    +9,384 /402
    Jeez it would be sweet to win this one. We do, and my suggestion that we may be minor premiers stands.
  3. fLIP

    fLIP UFO Hunter

    +1,324 /37
    It would be nice to win this one, but for the first time in a number of years I have to say I really don't think we are going to win this. No chance at all if we play like we did against souths. They're just too fast.
  4. DSM5

    DSM5 Well-Known Member

    +516 /0
    I don't think you can look at the Souths game with a view to this on on Friday.  Souths offered nothing so our guys just lazed around.  The game against the Warriors might be more the go.  Big guys running at you brings out the best.  Anyway when you line up the teams, our backs look the equal.  It's in the forwards that it will be won.  If Princess and Perry can go forward, with Choc, Menzies, Stewart and Willo cleaning up, then Orford, hopefully, can play a good one and steer them home.  Manly to win. 
  5. willstyles

    willstyles Active Member

    +4 /0
    Poor, poor error.

    Chalk it up as a missed tackle for Stevenson.
  6. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan

    +2,125 /14
    Manly face Storm with no emotion

        By Brent Read and Margie McDonald
        April 09, 2008


    ANTHONY Watmough has never watched last season's grand final and doesn't plan to. Jamie Lyon has seen bits and pieces, but only after being forced to sit through video review sessions at training.

    The same goes for Matt Orford, who spent the entire pre-season trying to forget it.

    Then this week comes along, and the surviving members of last year's grand final side are forced to relive one of the lowest points of their careers.

    Manly players to a man insist that retribution will be the furthest thing from their mind when they travel to Melbourne this week.

    They've been well schooled.

    Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler made it clear in the pre-season there would be no talk of revenge. And so the word was struck from their vocabulary, consigned to the dustbin.

    Even so, there's no denying last year's 34-8 loss to the Storm in the title decider still hurts.

    And Friday night's game at Olympic Park is a chance to exorcise some demons, even if a win won't make up for the blown opportunity.

    "I've watched just bits and pieces but it's probably something that's not at the top of my list," Orford said of last year's grand final.

    "Not really interested ... maybe in 10 or 20 years' time."

    Asked for his memories of the match, he said: "Just the first 20 minutes and then we slipped off.

    "My memories of that grand final are walking out, linking arms, singing the national anthem and looking up to see 80,000 people ... that was the highlight for me."

    Lyon, back in the centres and back in form, has the onerous task of marking Melbourne centre Israel Folau.

    Asked his thoughts on the 2007 grand final, he replied: "I'm not going to go out and watch it on my own.

    "It was devastating there for a while. But it's not the end of the world and you have to get over it at some stage.

    "I think we're all over it now."

    You get the feeling they're all a little envious of Brett Stewart.

    The Sea Eagles full-back was knocked senseless early in the second half by a Michael Crocker shoulder charge and remembers little else.

    He has watched the game in parts but only because he stumbled across it while flicking TV channels.

    "I watched it at the start of the year when Fox replayed it," Stewart said.

    "I didn't watch too much of the second half because I knew I wasn't playing."

    Stewart cheekily suggested his forwards might seek a little dose of retribution on Crocker this week. But that was as close as anyone got to airing the concept of revenge.

    "All year we never got our bums smacked and we probably left our worst performance to the biggest game of the year," Orford said.

    "You always think about it. You think about did we do things right, could we change things, just the experience is invaluable.

    "I don't know if we could have done anything better. The week before we had a massive game against the Cowboys to get in the grand final.

    "The emotion of making the grand final take its toll more than you imagine."

    So Orford won't be letting the emotion of this week do a similar thing. As yesterday's media session dawdled along, he grew increasingly agitated.

    By the end, he had clearly reached the end of his tether.

    "There's no replay, no revenge," Orford said.

    "I don't see it like that. I can't understand the hype. It's like a grand final week.

    "I can guarantee you we won't be getting caught up in it."


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