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Discussion in 'Rugby League Forum' started by Berkeley_Eagle, Sep 14, 2008.

  1. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan

    +2,125 /14
    Manly step closer to redemption

    By Steve Mascord | September 13,


    STEVE Menzies got his real Brookvale farewell last night, his try kicking off a Manly rout of hapless St George Illawarra and taking the Sea Eagles within 80 minutes of a second straight grand final.

    Captain Matt Orford then declared it was time to make the most of Manly's second consecutive shot at a premiership.

    The 32-point belting handed the Dragons another season of disappointment and offered a sad end to the tenures of coach Nathan Brown and captain Mark Gasnier.
    Having been denied in his final regular season home game before joining Bradford, Menzies scored the first of the Sea Eagles' seven tries last night and was then given the opportunity finish the scoring with a 78th-minute conversion. He missed, horribly.

    "It was just a fitting end to it all. Being able to send him off with an important win just adds to the night,'' coach Des Hasler said.

    While Hasler predictably steered away from talk of a tile, Orford wasn't so coy about the prospect.

    "We've been there before, we know what to expect of each other. We've just got to build quietly. We're in a good position, we've just got to make the most of it,'' Orford said.

    Hasler added that a last-minute injury scare to prop Josh Perry was only a corked leg, adding more positives to the Sea Eagles' night.

    Gasnier, who is headed to French rugby, choked up when interviewed on the field at fulltime and when asked later if he felt he would ever play league again.

    "Honestly, no. Probably not. I think that's it,'' Gasnier said.

    "I feel crap, but it's more for the loss, not because I'm going or anything like that.

    "A lot of the guys came up and said their goodbyes. It's starting to (sink in).''

    Menzies started on the bench but was sent on after just three minutes when centre Steve Bell suffered a calf injury.

    Five minutes later, Menzies charged down a Ben Rogers clearing kick, head-butted the ball as he was trying to pick it up and scored.

    Dragons backrower Ben Creagh lost the ball over the line in the 17th minute and then dummy runner Lagi Setu was ruled to have taken out defender Matt Orford in the 25th to also deny the visitors a try.

    Gasnier still managed to score two minutes later after a 70-metre movement which probably included a forward pass.

    But tries to Manly winger Michael Robertson and second-rower Anthony Watmough in the final five minutes of the first half broke the Dragons' backs.

    Brett Stewart executed one of his trademark tries from an Orford bomb in the 58th minute and when replacement Heath L'Estrange and Stewart touched down simultaneously five later, they did a comical paper-rock-scissors to decide who should get the points.

    Stewart won, but officials gave the touchdown to L'Estrange.

    The vanquished Dragons coach signed off by saying he believes "Manly is much better equipped this year to beat Melbourne''.

    Fulltime-Qualifying Finals
    MANLY 38 (H L'Estrange S Menzies J Perry M Robertson B Stewart A Watmough D Williams tries M Orford 5 goals) bt ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 6 (M Gasnier try M Gasnier goal) at Brookvale Oval. Referee: S Hayne.

  2. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan

    +2,125 /14

    Brown's tenure ends on a Soward note

    By James Hooper | September 14, 2008

    FOR a champion bloke, Nathan Brown never quite cut it as an NRL coach. In his six seasons at St George Illawarra, come the big games and the big plays, the overwhelming theme has been lemons. Sour ones.

    Which brings us to the selection of Ben Rogers at five-eighth against Manly last night. With their season on the line, the gambler in Brown decided to listen to his senior centres Mark Gasnier and Matt Cooper and pick Rogers over Jamie Soward.

    The move came despite Soward featuring strongly in the Dally M Medal count last Tuesday and the Dragons playing some superb attacking football with him in the side. Worse still, Brown told Rogers last Wednesday he wasn't going to pick him.

    So Rogers did what most young men would have done, he went out and had a drink.

    It was a long drink.

    Arriving at training slightly dusty on Thursday morning, Rogers was told he was back in the side.

    The theory was if it was wet, Soward would play, but a dry track meant Rogers was in.

    For all of his great qualities as the easygoing, always-smiling Happy Dragon, this must be one selection choice Brown would want over again.

    Because when they write his epithet in Dragons history, despite all of his success and star-studded teams, one of the major themes is going to be what if?

    With the season done and dusted, Brown defended his selections. But the Dragons' harshest critics will suggest his laconic one-liners and relaxed demeanour have allowed players too much rope.

    "Obviously I've been here 17 years now and it's been a great journey, but not everyone gets the fairytale finish they would have liked,'' Brown said.

    "Life will go on, that's for sure. I'll wake up in the morning, then I'll go to sleep, then I'll wake up in the morning and probably feel a bit seedy.

    "Unfortunately we didn't quite get there, which has been the case a little bit this year at times, we just didn't quite get there. That's probably why we finished seventh instead of in the top four.''

    It is guaranteed to be a different story next year under Wayne Bennett. The strict disciplinarian who has won six premierships is bound to introduce a different style of governance.

    It might have been a new year but it was the same story for St George Illawarra last night.
    In the pressure-cooker of finals football, they folded like a house of cards.

    This is why St George Illawarra fans are accustomed to frustration. So much talent, so many disappointments.

    In their defence, the problems weren't all of their own making.

    Video referees Paul Simpkins and Chris Ward denied Josh Morris the Dragons' opening try when it seemed certain that he scored.

    While five-eighth Rogers showed some glimpses of brilliance, he also showed some rushes of blood. Early on, with the Dragons on the attack, he kicked the ball out on the full.

    That wasn't his lowest point. In the 12th minute, St George Illawarra decided to work a set move off the scrum, where the pivot would kick for a flying backline from 60m out and hope to catch Manly napping.

    Enter Beaver Menzies. Last game at Brookvale Oval. Charge-down. Try - 6-0 to the Sea Eagles.
  3. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan

    +2,125 /14
    Beaver the star as Eagles rock

    Adrian Proszenko at Brookvale Oval | September 14, 2008

    Sea Eagles 38 Dragons 6

    MAYBE Melbourne won't have it all their own way after all.

    If Brisbane fired a shot across the Storm's bow with their gritty win over the Roosters, then Manly pointed a bazooka in their direction last night.

    The Storm and the Sea Eagles played out last year's decider and, based on the Sea Eagles' clinical demolition of St George Illawarra, the odds on a grand final replay appear to have narrowed.

    What began as an arm wrestle turned into a cakewalk as the Sea Eagles piled on seven tries to one.

    The win ended Nathan Brown's turbulent career at the Dragons and it could also be the last we see of Mark Gasnier and Jason Ryles in the NRL. While Dragons fans will lament the loss of some of their favourite sons, the Brookvale faithful was in raptures about the prospect of going deeper into the finals.

    The Dragons had the wood on Manly coming into the game, winning seven of their past eight games. And it appeared they may extend their dominance when they trailed by just two points in the 35th minute. But the Eagles kicked into overdrive, scoring two tries before the break and four more after it in one of their most dominant displays of the season.

    The only bad news was a leg injury to Josh Perry, although the extent of the damage wasn't clear.

    Departing Manly hero Steve Menzies started this game on the bench. Twenty seconds later, he ran on to the field after Steve Bell limped off it with a hamstring injury. You cannot keep Menzies out of the action.

    When Ben Rogers - a controversial inclusion at the expense of Jamie Soward - inexplicably kicked the ball on the first tackle from a scrum win, Menzies was there to charge it down.

    The ball bobbled favourably, and Menzies had a clear play at it with the tryline wide open and no defenders in the same postcode. But he stumbled, bumbled and appeared to fluff a certain try by apparently knocking on before grounding the ball.

    However, replays revealed the ball came off his head rather than his hands. Video referees Paul Simpkins and Chris Ward hit the green light. Leave it to "Beaver".

    Orford converted and extended the lead not long afterwards with a penalty goal. The Dragons had chances. Twice they crossed and were denied, when Ben Creagh lost the ball over the line and then when Lagi Setu obstructed two defenders before a Josh Morris "try".

    But there was no denying Mark Gasnier one last touchdown before heading to France.

    The former Kangaroo converted his own try and it was game on.

    And then it was game over, courtesy of a frenetic five-minute period just before half-time.

    Michael Robertson exploited a glaring gap in the Dragons' defence, then Anthony Watmough landed a blow which really hurt. Brett Stewart lunged at the line, attracted three defenders and the play had seemingly broken down.

    But then Watmough sneaked in, took the ball off Stewart, rugby style and dived over to set up a 20-6 lead. Goodnight.

    MANLY 38 (H L'Estrange S Menzies J Perry M Robertson B Stewart A Watmough D Williams tries M Orford 5 goals) bt ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 6 (M Gasnier try M Gasnier goal) at Brookvale Oval. Referee: S Hayne.
  4. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan

    +2,125 /14
    Favourites warm to task

    Greg Prichard | September 14, 2008

    THE last 10 minutes of the first half told the tale. Twice during that time, Manly knocked back regulation shots at goal from penalties in favour of attacking the tryline. They led by just 8-6 at that stage, so if they didn't get anything out of it, the opposition was going to be left feeling pretty good about themselves, and the Sea Eagles, maybe, a little foolish.

    The first time, they came up empty, but they still finished the set off strongly, trapping the Dragons in-goal off a kick and getting the ball back from a drop-out. The second time, Manly backed themselves again and scored a try through winger Michael Robertson. Halfback Matt Orford's conversion made it 14-6, and the Sea Eagles had proved their point. They had effectively told St George Illawarra they were going to crack them, and did.

    A penalty, a good run from close range by Brett Stewart and some clever work by second-rower Anthony Watmough, and Manly were in again. Orford again converted, and after being down by just two points with half-time in sight, the Dragons went in trailing 20-6.

    AND so the window closes on an era which should have brought St George Illawarra a premiership, but didn't. Next year, a new era will start, with one of the biggest names in the game, Wayne Bennett, taking charge of the preparation at a club that has coach Nathan Brown and several players departing.

    Brown is going to Huddersfield, in England. Centre Mark Gasnier is off to play rugby union in France, and prop Jason Ryles to play league for French club Les Catalans. Winger Josh Morris is joining the Bulldogs, and five-eighth Ben Rogers has signed for Newcastle. Second-rower Lagi Setu is off to Bennett's club, Brisbane. Utility Rangi Chase is headed for English club Castleford.

    Second-rower Kirk Reynoldson and hooker Simon Woolford are retiring.

    The only story in St George Illawarra at the moment is one of disappointment. There have been times during Brown's reign as coach when they looked like they could have - and should have - won the premiership.
  5. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan

    +2,125 /14
  6. ManlyBacker

    ManlyBacker Winging it Staff Member

    +972 /7
    Great work as always BE - thanks.

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