Manly behind the eight ball

MANLY veteran Steve Menzies has conceded the Sea Eagles' mid-season slump has probably cost them a top four spot, predicting his team will emerge from a tough run home in the bottom half of the top eight.

A realistic Menzies admitted the past five weeks, in which the Sea Eagles have lost four matches, have severely dented hopes of a top four finish and home semi-final.

The peninsula side heads into tomorrow's vital clash with St George Illawarra at Brookvale Oval placed fifth but risk dropping out of the eight for the first time this year if they lose.

``We've had a bit of a lull in the season. It's going to be tough for us to make the top four,'' Menzies said.

``We had a look at a few of the sides in the run in and I think we'll maybe (get) fifth or sixth. I think our for-and-against is going to cost us.

``We've had a couple of bad games there but I think we can definitely bounce back this weekend (and) I think we'll definitely make the top eight.

``We've got the side to get to the semis and hopefully play our best football.''

Manly meet the Dragons before enjoying a weekend off with their second bye of the season.

They then take on North Queensland and Brisbane at home in consecutive weeks.

Manly coach Des Hasler gave Menzies and State of Origin teammate Ben Kennedy the first half of this week off in a bid to freshen them up for the run to the finals.

``I basically told them to come back when they felt ready and they had two or three days off just to get away from it and re- charge,'' Hasler said.

``It's good that that period of the season is over and we can focus on the rest of the season.

``It's important we get some momentum going again.''

On the clash with the Dragons, Hasler said: ``With the bye next week, it's a four point match.

``Even without (Trent) Barrett they will field a very good side.

``It's a major test for us.''
What's with this "four point match" stuff? If they lose is it classed as a two point match? It's not worth four points, you still get the bye if you lose. Another great rugby league cliche.

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