Manly a level below
Manly are not at the level of South Sydney, the Sydney Roosters and Melbourne.
Despite six straight wins and a very competitive showing in a 22-10 defeat at the hands of the Rabbitohs on Friday night, the Sea Eagles&amp;rsquo; inability to fire a shot against the top three teams in the premiership suggests they are at least a level off the top sides.
Geoff Toovey&amp;rsquo;s post-match tantrum did little to assuage concerns that Manly don&amp;rsquo;t have what it takes to go all the way. They were flying last year before disintegrating in the finals and they could be facing another meek finale to their 2013 campaign.
The Sea Eagles have tackled the top three teams on five occasions in 2013 for just a draw and four losses. Against the current top eight they are 4-6-1 while against bottom eight teams they are 9-1.
Manly have the cattle to beat up on bad teams but can&amp;rsquo;t run with the big dogs of the premiership. And it is their attack that has proven the concern, unable to break down the top defences. Manly have averaged just 9.6 points against the Bunnies, Chooks and Storm this year, not surpassing two tries in any match. It was the same tale on Friday, when they had much of the early possession and field position but couldn&amp;rsquo;t put it to their scoreboard advantage.
The problem for Manly is that their attack is very simple and somewhat predictable. What they do, they do exceptionally well, putting men in motion and running block plays better than any other team. But there is not a lot else to their attack. They do not have a lot of variety in their pack, particularly at prop, nor do they possess any great speed. They run a very structured, very vanilla attack and they do it very well. That works against poor teams. It doesn&amp;rsquo;t against the best.
Manly will likely be there at the preliminary finals stage of the season. Another inglorious end, however, would not surprise if Geoff Toovey does not expand their attack.