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Manly mid season report - From NRL.COM

Discussion in 'Rugby League Forum' started by Stiffi, Jun 20, 2008.

  1. Stiffi

    Stiffi Active Member 2017 Tipping Competitor

    +118 /0
    Manly Sea Eagles - Mid Season Report
    Big League
    Position after 13 rounds: 1st
    Wins: 8
    Losses: 4
    Byes: 1
    Points: 18
    Differential: +150

    THEY looked a little shaky early and still haven’t totally hit their straps but last year’s runners-up would be more than pleased to be leading the competition at the halfway mark.

    After opening losses to Cronulla and Newcastle the Sea Eagles have slowly lifted their form and only fallen to Melbourne and the Dragons since. Their current run is six wins from their past seven starts and culminated in an absolute shellacking of an (albeit under-strength) Roosters last weekend.

    The 42-0 win boosted an already impressive points differential to give them a jump start on the other contenders heading into the back half of the year.

    They have dropped two of their seven games at home, which is unlike them, but they’ll fancy their chances in home games to come – particularly against Newcastle, Parramatta, Penrith and the Gold Coast.

    But the majority of the remaining games are away from fortress Brookvale, so they’ll need to lift their current 3-2 visiting record.

    Are Things Going To Plan?… Coach Des Hasler wouldn’t be overly excited about the scratchy form from early on but with their main plan giving themselves another shot at premiership glory currently on track, he can’t complain too much.

    The side is building nicely and while still coming to terms with Michael Monaghan’s departure to the UK, they are getting more accustomed to their new style each and every week.

    They have the best attack, the second-best defence and are making more metres gained a match than any other side.

    They also lead the league in offloads and their halfback Matt Orford leads the Dally M Medal count.

    Hasler won’t be resting on his laurels though… he knows the current form isn’t going to cut it in the finals, or even the run to them.

    As the games become more intense following the rep season, the Manly boys will need to lift.

    Injury Front… Having used just 23 players the Sea Eagles can count themselves relatively lucky on the injury front. Winger Michael Bani, centres Steve Bell and Steve Matai and forwards Jason King and Anthony Watmough have had minor setbacks but are either fit again or due back in the next few weeks.

    If Only… Of the four losses the Sea Eagles have conceded they could easily have turned the result around in three of them; only a 26-4 loss to Melbourne was out of reach.

    In round one they were on the comeback trail against the Sharks (lost 16-10) before having a potential try turned down by the video referee for a controversial obstruction.

    The following week they fell by a point (13-12) to the Knights in golden point after leading 12-2 with 15 minutes remaining (a match they should really have shut out) and then against the Dragons in round 11 they fell to another late try (20-18) but the difference there was the decision to leave a concussed Anthony Watmough on the park.

    The former Origin rep was exposed in defence for a Dragons’ try and produced the turn-over that led to the match-winner for the Dragons.

    Who’s Flying… Matt Orford has basically given a big “cop that” to representative selectors after once again missing out on being involved in State of Origin – he leads the Dally M Medal count at the halfway point by four points over Melbourne’s Billy Slater.

    He leads the league in line-break assists with 11 and try assists with 19.

    Needs To Lift… Most of the Manly boys are doing okay but some would like to improve their defence a little.

    Steve Matai is still missing half the tackles he attempts and even Glenn Stewart, who has made more tackles than any of his team-mates, would be hoping to stick a few more than his current rating of 87 per cent.

    Des Hasler Tells NRL.com… “I’m pretty pleased with how we’re building into the season.

    We have a whole lot of improvement left in us which is also promising considering the position we find ourselves on the ladder.”

    Predicted finish… Top four will be the goal from here. 1 to 4.

    Under-20s… The fledgling Sea Eagles are just outside the finals’ zone at the moment with five wins and seven losses and will need to lift to get into the top eight by season’s end.

    They haven’t had any NRL graduates as yet but Dale Cherry-Evans and Kieran Foran are growing as a halves pairing.

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