Manly haunted by 21-year hoodoo

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DVS Matt

Manly haunted by 21-year hoodoo

July 18, 2007 MANLY legend Geoff Toovey can't remember too much about his rugby league career and the one thing he'd rather not recall is brought to his attention at this time every year.

Manly has not won at the Sharks' home ground in 21 years.

It is the longest running hoodoo in the NRL and every season without fail Toovey is reminded of the Sea Eagles failure to win at the Shire and the fact he never won a football game there.

"The old chestnut that comes out every time," said Toovey when asked about the record.

"I don't know what it is, it might just be a terribly unlucky ground to play on.

"I'm probably the one bloke that you shouldn't ask about previous games, I can't remember last week.

"I'm at a loss to explain it. I can't recall many games in the past and it wasn't until the last couple of years that someone has always mentioned how long it's been since Manly has won there.

"I can't see any particular cause to it, it's just one of those freakish facts I suppose.

"The ground doesn't hold any great aura to me or great tradition or fear or emotion.

"I couldn't put it down to any one thing, I can only comment on the fact it is a remarkable period of time since we have won there without putting a finger on it."

The remarkable record has withstood five ground name changes and six coaches and captains for the Sharks.

Manly's last victory at the then named Ronson Field was on July 12, 1986 with a 32-4 win.

Toovey had yet to play first grade when the Sea Eagles last beat the Sharks on their home turf, however current Manly coach Des Hasler did play in that victory which would have occurred 7678 days ago when the two sides meet this Friday.

But Toovey, a member of Hasler's current coaching staff, said while the hoodoo was hard to escape amongst the pre-game hype he doesn't expect it to be raised by the astute leader.

"It's been brought up in the media the last three or four years maybe so it's something you do talk about in a sense that it has been a long time, but we have no great trepidation about playing there," said Toovey.

Manly has been listed as $1.25 favourites with TAB Sportsbet to end its losing streak in Cronulla, the odds framed largely around the Sea Eagles second place on the NRL table and the Sharks injury crisis robbing them of several key players.

However, Manly is adamant not to let any complacency creep into their game plan as it desperately chases Melbourne for the minor premiership.

It trails Storm by two wins with seven games remaining and another loss would virtually hand Melbourne back-to-back minor premierships.

"(The Sharks) have given the young and new blokes an opportunity to impress the coach and we can't go into the game thinking they've lost key players so we should win," said Toovey.

"If you take it the wrong way and don't concentrate on the game and their young players and new players stand up as they tend to do and are capable off, it could end up biting us on the bum.

"Hopefully we will come home with a wet sail and maybe get that minor premiership."

Jatz Crackers

First Grader
In my best Mel Brooks jewish voice : hoodoo smoodoo...............

Just as I asserted Mattai could contest the judiciary this week and beat the contrary conduct charge, tomorrow night will signal the end of this ridiculous statistic at Shark Park. :twisted:


CRONULLA are the Mark Webber of the NRL. They can't finish a race. Not only do they splutter within sight of the finish line, they graciously pull over and allow their opponents to fly past.

Rather than being the pits, Cronulla seem to spend the last quarter of contests in them.

In their past seven matches, they have not scored in the final 20 minutes of each game. It's happened 11 times this season.

In defence, they are similarly dreadful in the last quarter.

In their past 10 matches, they have kept the opposition scoreless only twice. After 18 rounds, they have scored 46 points in the final 20 minutes, while conceding 73.

So profound is their ineptitude after the hour mark, they should be sponsored by 60 Minutes. It is a most unusual record for a Ricky Stuart coached side, lending support to Jack Gibson's explanation for Cronulla's historic failure: "It's something in the woodwork".

By contrast, Manly, their opponents at Shark Park tonight, are formula one's equivalent of Jack Brabham, who was so desperate to reach the checkered flag, he once pushed his car over the line.

The Sea Eagles lead the league in piling on the points in the last quarter.

They have scored 135 points after the hour, adding 10 or more points in the final 20 minutes seven times this season.

In defence, they are miserly, keeping their opponents to a total of 41 in the last quarter.

Ten times this season they have not allowed opponents to score in the final 20 minutes.

The last-quarter aggregates of both teams after 18 rounds reads Sharks minus 27 and Sea Eagles plus 94.

Stuart is aware of his team's scoring collapse, adding a statistic of his own: "We have scored only once in the last 20 minutes of the last 10 games." Asked the reason, he said: "It's something we are trying to find a solution to. We noticed it in our mid-season review. I've been speaking about it at training and creating some drills to combat it."

The usual culprits in late game meltdowns are over-training, players carrying injuries, inexperience, poor rotation, ineffective captaincy and lack of creative players.

Stuart identifies the last of these as his chief problem.

"Having a player such as [fullback] Brett Kearney missing for those games has been a big disadvantage for us," he said. "He is the only player with great second-phase play, a great broken field runner. When we had him, we were scoring some of those unstructured attacking style tries you get at the end of games. He's been a huge loss to us."

True. An offensive game plan only takes a team so far. During the final 20 minutes, players are on their own.

This period challenges the robotic players and opens up the game for those with natural football instincts to exploit a tiring opposition.

But the Sharks are also poor in defence over the final quarter.

How does the absence of the creative Kearney contribute to a porous defence?

Lack of creative players hurts a team defensively because they are not asking any questions of the opposition's tiring defence. The opposition is unchallenged, leaving them fresh to attack.

Interestingly, Stuart's team knows what to do after half-time when the firebrand coach tells them where to attack.

The Sharks have an impressive tally of 108 third-quarter points - more than double their final quarter tally.

Manly coach Des Hasler is less certain than Stuart for his team's great last 20-minute stats. "I can't put my finger on the reason why," he said. "There's something about us where we hang in there. We've learnt to come home. Our conditioners here work hard on being able to sustain a match."

If it is unusual for a Stuart-coached team to collapse, it's not surprising a Hasler team would be fit.

Manly have GPS technology which allows them to monitor fitness and adjust training. The lightweight device, strapped to a player's back, has a number of microchips which position the player in space and time and emits signals, allowing measurement of speed and acceleration.

"It gives us feedback on individual player's physiology," Hasler says. "It tells us how far we need to run at training."

So the GPS, which Cronulla don't have, explains the Sea Eagles' last 20-minute success?

"Conditioning plus desire," Hasler said, before cautioning the writer. "Under the radar, remember. Don't make too much of a point of it."

Yes, Desmond. But points are the point, as both football coaches and formula one drivers know.

Canteen Worker

First Grader
Great article in the Herald. I hate it though when they talk Manly up and Sharks down. Young players can lift for a one off (as seen by St G). We have to start well and put them to the sword.
Team P W L PD Pts
12 9 3 83 22
14 10 4 78 22
13 9 4 110 20
13 8 5 66 20
13 7 6 81 18
12 7 5 -37 18
13 7 6 133 16
13 7 6 47 16
13 7 6 -34 16
13 6 6 27 15
13 6 6 26 15
14 7 7 -26 14
13 6 7 -47 14
13 4 9 -111 10
12 3 9 -123 10
12 3 9 -136 10
12 2 10 -137 8
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