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Sea Eagles circle ahead of Storm

Discussion in 'Rugby League Forum' started by Berkeley_Eagle, Sep 15, 2008.

  1. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan

    +2,125 /14
    Sea Eagles circle ahead of Storm

    Greg Prichard | September 15, 2008
    Sea Eagles 38 Dragons 6

    FOR coach Des Hasler, the most pleasing thing about the fact Manly have negotiated their first hurdle of the finals series is that they appear to be reacting the right way to what happened to them at the end of last season.

    The Sea Eagles got blown away by Melbourne in the grand final, and it wasn't just the score - the Storm cleared out in the second half to win 34-8 - that was so disappointing for the club and their fans.

    It was also that so many key players were way down on their best form on the night.

    But there are no obvious signs of lingering after-effects. After Saturday night's big win over the Dragons at Brookvale Oval, which took Manly from week one to week three of the finals, the mood in the dressing room was one of quiet satisfaction.

    There were no riotous celebrations. The players were happy, of course, but they have made more noise after winning regular-season games.

    It was an atmosphere that said the win was merely a stepping stone to what they really wanted - and that last season's experience had made them more determined, and better prepared, to go after.

    "These guys are a lot more experienced now," Hasler said. "They're a lot more aware of the situation they're in and what it's going to take for them to get to where they want to."

    Hasler sat next to Sea Eagles captain Matt Orford at the post-match media conferenceand you could tell by the coach's straight face that Hasler was delighted with what Orford was saying.

    Reason being, it was straight down the line.

    "There's still some work to do," Orford said. "We're not going to get carried away. We'll look after injuries. We've been there before, and we know what to expect of each other if we want to be there again. We have to build, quietly."

    There is no good reason to think that if Manly do make the grand final - against Melbourne or whoever - they will play like they did last year.

    It is worth remembering that when the Storm made the 2006 grand final, they started favourites - but lost, 15-8, to Brisbane. Some controversial calls went against the Storm and they also made uncharacteristic mistakes. Last year, however, they knew exactly what they were doing.

    Hasler knows that if Manly are going to ring up No.1 this year they have to cut right down on turnovers and penalties. Giving the Storm cheap possession hurt the Sea Eagles when they lost the round-22 clash between the sides.

    Against the Dragons, Manly conceded the first three penalties, and five of the first seven, which helped keep the visitors in the game. The big plus for Manly on Saturday was their defence.

    "It was a great defensive effort," Hasler said. "We were very committed there, and we needed that, because we put ourselves under a bit of pressure early, when we made some uncharacteristic errors. That's something we obviously need to improve on."

    St George Illawarra did not take advantage of what the Sea Eagles gave them. They weren't good enough, basically, and coach Nathan Brown's decision to play Ben Rogers ahead of Jamie Soward in the key position of five-eighth backfired.

    But other sides are obviously more capable of taking advantage, hence Hasler's extreme vigilance.

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