Sea Eagles' secret out in the open By Paul Kent http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/sport/nrl/story/0,26799,24012946-5016307,00.html ABOUT 24 minutes into Saturday's Manly-Cronulla match, a small puff of black smoke shot out the back of the Manly coaching box. The radar had blown up. Des Hasler's goal of keeping Manly "under the radar" this NRL season was officially over. The Sea Eagles led 22-0 against the competition co-leaders, but that was only half of it. In those 24 minutes they had 16 completions from 16 sets when they had the ball, and they did not miss a tackle when they didn't. It was as close to perfect football as any team could play. What was happening right there is why today the Sea Eagles are the best team in the NRL. Until 24 minutes in, the Sea Eagles were flying under the radar. Not any more. Already they have been reeled in to second favourite on premiership markets, the bookies never slow to save a quid. Everybody else is still talking about Saturday's performance, and quite rightly. Whatever you were looking for, it was there. This has caused considerable concern within the Manly camp, so much they have tried hard since to make their 34-6 win appear an aberration, a trick of lights and mirrors. "I suppose we're halfway there and we've been cruising under the radar for a little while," Steve Menzies told AAP yesterday, apparently with a straight face. "Then you come up to these top-of-the-table clashes," said the Beaver, "and, if you win them like we did, it's going to make people have a bit of a look at that. "But I think Melbourne is still the team to beat." Do not buy real estate from the Beaver. Whatever he is selling, we're not buying. Manly punished Cronulla. They played direct and hard and this, coupled with their mistake-free footy early on, broke the Sharks. Too much good football, much too early. The Sea Eagles beat them again, in another big game, just like Manly media boss and club legend Peter Peters said they would. Manly have a belief they beat Cronulla in all the big games, and Saturday's top-of-the-table billing made it another big game. Manly have long had a certain belief about themselves, which is what makes them Manly. It generates a certain resolve. This resolve is strengthened by silence and its value remains while ever no Manly player breaks it. The bond was there during the recent Origin series, when the Sea Eagles felt snubbed at their non-selection. Only one Manly player made the Origin side and that man was Brett Stewart. He played 10 minutes of the last game. Snubbed, to a man the Sea Eagles refused to watch any Origin game. When Jamie Lyon was called in late he said no thanks. These bonds were formed in last year's grand final loss and strengthened with a small team dinner at the start of the season. It was there the Sea Eagles vocalised their purpose. In the cellar of a restaurant owned by a club sponsor, Hasler brought his team together with the players from the 1978 grand final, marking 30 years since their premiership win over Cronulla. While Saturday's game was billed as the 30th anniversary, and promoted as such, few know the Sea Eagles have quietly been feeding on it all season long. The 1978 grand final win, over Cronulla, is regarded as the greatest in club history. The Sea Eagles needed to win five games in 19 days to take the premiership in a replay on Tuesday. It took some toll. The toughest man at the club, Terry Randall, had a hip injury that should have kept him out of the game. To make the field he took painkillers in the hip, and they worked so well they shot painkillers into his knee and ankle to dull their pain also. The needles couldn't help his eye, still closed shut from Saturday's game, but no worry for Randall. The Ogre only needed one good eye. Frank Stanton was coach and couldn't make the dinner, but sent a letter about spirit and teamwork and will to win. He told how before that grand final he flew in an army general who landed in a helicopter at Brookvale Oval, and how the army general climbed out of this big helicopter and spoke to those players. Here was courage and effort and the willingness to give above the call, and the Sea Eagles loved to hear it. They were ready to play. Highlights of the game were shown and the current mob watched, quietly stunned by its ferocity and toughness. Stewart was so taken he wanted a private chat with Graham Eadie afterwards. The two fullbacks have since had a sit-down. It made such an impact that the Sea Eagles adopted the spirit of that 1978 win as their rallying cry this season, and it has driven them as they stayed under the radar. Saturday's win means that is longer possible, but the message still resonates. These Sea Eagles are all about getting the business done.