Two tough matches down… and two more coming up
What a tough period of the 2013 NRL Competition Manly is going through right now… and so far, the boys can hold their heads high.
Round 7 Manly Sea Eagles vs Souths
That monster of a match against Souths in Round 7 was without a doubt, the highlight of the NRL season so far. And though the Sea Eagles went down in a tight one, they never gave up hope, fought to the end and with an ounce of luck, could have pulled off a miracle win. The atmosphere at Brookie was incredible!
It was just that first 10 minutes of the second half that cruelled it for us… that period aside, we matched it with the rampaging Rabbitohs all the way in an absolute thriller. We did not get the rub of the green all night and weren’t helped by some dumb mistakes, notably from the overly-zealous Richie Fa'aoso… and I’m not just talking about the Inglis tackles. His big error in defence early in the 2nd Half gave Souths their second try and in the end, the match… and now we’ve lost his power running and hitting for eight long weeks.
Though live at the ground I can tell you Steve Matai’s tackle on George Burgess did have a certain ‘intent’ – (in fact, it seemed like he ran in from 20 metres or more with his arm back behind him and mayhem on his mind!). But his aim was spot on and he hit the ball, not the man. He should not have had to cop a suspension. All that said, Souths were deserved winners on the night… but I get the feeling the result will be reversed when we face them again in Gosford later this year.
Round 8 Manly Sea Eagles vs Dragons
Then this week the team broke its 16-year hoodoo at Kogarah by beating the Dragons in a bizarre Monday Night match. The Sea Eagles cruised to an 18-0 lead in no time, then didn’t see the ball for the next hour.
And yet even though we were forced to make 100 tackles more than Saints, had a second rower playing in the centres replacing Steve Matai, no Fa’aoso, no Jason King, no Joe Gulavao, had only a 35% vs 65% share of possession and had a winger at fullback replacing Brett Stewart in the second half, the boys still dug deep enough to score the winning try and prevent back-to-back losses - a bloody gutsy effort, (despite the worrying handling errors).
Anthony Watmough is playing his best footy in ages. In both those last two games, he was awesome… making heaps of ground, always getting a quick play-the-ball happening, tackling anything in an opposition jumper… he’ll be awesome in this year’s State of Origin.
And you just can’t speak highly enough of Jamie Lyon. Even though Bryson Goodwin did an outstanding job of keeping him quieter in the Souths game and Inglis got past him for that crucial try, he is without doubt the best centre playing the game this season.
Round 9 & 10 Manly Sea Eagles vs Roosters ‘n Storm
But now comes another two consecutive Monday Night games – (that’s three straight NRL programmers!) – against two more big guns in this year’s competition: The Roosters (at home) and Melbourne (away). How these blockbusters can be scheduled for Monday night games is beyond the thinking of any sane sports fan. Both are the matches of the round. Crazy stuff.
I can’t wait for another Battle of Brookvale next Monday when Jared Waerea-Hargreaves returns ‘home’ leading a revitalised Roosters side boasting in-form players all over the park. Sonny Bill is simply killing ‘em. He is up there with Inglis, Slater and Smith among the very elite among all players in our Comp. Williams Vs. Watmough will be a battle royale.
And the other match-ups are just as mouth-watering… Lyon vs. Jennings… Cherry-Evans vs. Pearce… Foran vs. Maloney… Stewart vs. Minichiello… what a game this is going to be.
And then we back up against our great rivals The Storm.
The results of these next two matches won’t determine our finishing position at the end of the season… but should the Sea Eagles manage to win both games, the team’s confidence would soar. The young guys in the team would start feeling bullet-proof and it would make the leadership roles of the more experienced players that much easier from here through to September.
Our team’s playing great… let’s hope the good form continues. Go Manly!!!