Manly Just Pass the Trimester Exams

First Grader
Just past the 1/3 season mark it is impossible to accurately pinpoint where the mighty Manly Sea Eagles will end up in 2006. Whilst not matching last season’s flying start there are signs that the team possesses the potential to make a mark come ‘money time’ in post season games but that is a eons off at this point. First we have to get there!!

Manly certainly appear to be stronger that in 2005 and the side relies less on a small group of players. The acquisition of Steve Bell is a huge plus, providing penetration in the mid-field. It is no coincidence that he is the leading tryscorer in the comp. Matt Orford has not had the immediate impact of his fellow Melbourne import but there are clear signs that he is settling in and that the side is adjusting to his strengths. Travis Burns has made some impact, particularly defensively and Michael Robertson has impressed on the wing. The switch of Michael Monaghan to hooker is starting to pay dividends as he adjusts to the dummy half role.

Major positives for 2006 include the Captaincy of Ben Kennedy, the form of ‘Evergreen’ Steve Menzies, improved form from Brent Kite and Jason King and the development of Steve Matai.

Negatives seem to be injuries to Brett Stewart, curtailing his game time, low impact from the bench, the slightly inconsistent form of Anthony Watmough and the lack of depth to cover Rep selections and injury.

Manly have shown the ability to come from behind and the games against the Sharks, Roosters and Eels all demonstrated a composure that did not exist in previous years. Leadership, experience and determination all contributed to this. We still struggle to win at night and seem to play our best in the afternoon at Brookvale.

Our completion rate, kicking game and defence all seem to have improved. Development is still required in improving our discipline and avoiding penalties. A nasty habit of back-chatting and dissent seems to be have been attended as this issue was becoming endemic.

The side is still tending to start games poorly and allow opposition sides to make confident starts with better field position. Funnily enough Many has won quite a few games in which the opposition scored first and lost at least three in which we scored first.

Some Highlights

Best Win: 40 – 14 win against the Dogs at Telstra in which Manly smashed them and made them look second rate.

Worst Performance: Round 1 against Canberra in which we played as if we expected to win comfortably.

The One that Got Away: Against St George Illawarra at Brookvale – we had many chances to win.

Best defensive Effort: Against the Warriors in Auckland

Victory Snatched from the Jaws of Defeat: Against Parra at the SCG

Best Players: Steve Bell, ‘Ben Kennedy’ and Beaver Menzies

Surprise Packet: The form of Michael Robertson who also scored the best individualtry in my opinion (St G - Illawarra)

Things to work at: Improved Kicking game, Defensive decision making out wide, avoiding needless penalties in stupid positions, More consistency from Choc Watmough and Steve Matai.

Concerns: there is a distinct lack of depth in certain positions, we lack big impact players off the bench, two games have been lost through inconsistent goal kicking.

The jury is still out on Season 2006. Injuries, how we come through the Rep Season and whether we can develop any momentum will be vital in determining how we fare. It is a very even and hard fought comp with few sides standing out consistently as above the others. This time last year we were in first place and we plummeted down the table. Can we be more consistent and build up to the semis this year???

Two things strike me: First is that Ben Kennedy is a pivotal player in the team and is desperately needed on the paddock. His leadership means better defence, more metres and greater focus.

Second is that that despite some good performances, this team has a heap of improvement left in it in many areas and our ability to play more cohesively as the season progresses will define our season. We have great potential to improve. Bring on the rest of the Season!!!!

Team Rating:

Defence: 7/10
Attack: 6/10
Ball Control: 6/10
Discipline: 5/10
Kicking Game 5/10
Composure: 7/10
Tipping Member
A perfect snapshot of the year to date CW, nice work. I'm as uncertain about the rest of year as you are but remain eternally optimistic (especially if Steve Bell remains fit for the rest of the season).
Winging it
Really great writeup CW.
I think Matai deserves a rap even though he has been disappointing the last two weeks. His defensive efforts in particular prior to that were sensational.

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