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Silvertails Match Preview - A fickle optimism

Matabele

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So here we stand at the dawn of a new season. Finally long and tedious Friday nights in front of B-grade rented DVDs draw to a close and 27 weeks of Friday action lay glistening ahead.

Finally Manly fans can face the new season already feeling the hate. A decade is a long time between drinks when it comes to feeling the paltry fury of the jealous and down-trodden that have attached their flag to teams of lesser pedigree.

How sweet it has been to read the experts tipping us for finals action, labeling us as one of the teams that have improved in stature from last year. However, before we get carried away, let us consider a few things of immense importance:


• Last year’s wooden spooners, the Newcastle Knights were unanimously selected as finals certainties in March 2005.
• Last year’s pre-season favourites, the Bulldogs, failed to make the finals.
• 151-1 long shots, the West Tigers are defending Premiers.

So while the Sea Eagles faithful can face the season with renewed confidence and expectation, I feel duty bound to point out that abject calamity is only one week away.

Consider that last year’s fall of the Knights and Bulldogs was caused by a terrible run of injury to key players. Consider the Tigers were languishing near the rear of the field mid-season but rode home on a wave of enthusiasm, luck and momentum.

With the competition so even, it stands to reason that each game must be taken on its merits and NO game can be underestimated.

This is especially the case in Manly’s season opener on Saturday night. Consider what many think to be in our favour:

• A huge home crowd barracking for the men in maroon and white.
• An opponent ravaged by injury.
• An opponent tipped by many as wooden spoon certainties.
• An out of town team that don’t travel well.
• A team we thrashed in just Round 26, in Canberra, in their last taste of NRL action.

However, it is exactly this line-up of factors in our favour that make me nervous. Consider that every recent opening round has been littered with upsets, with trial and on-paper form turned on its head when the whips really start to crack.

And no team in recent years has enjoyed a better record of opening round upsets away from home than the Raiders. I suspect this is because much vaunted teams slip into the habit of underestimating the men in green.

As the odds continue to stack in our favour, this is exactly the scenario of underestimation and complacency that could undo our side. And to drop a game that should be considered a certain two points would be calamitous indeed.

There are tougher games in weeks to come. This weekend is the time to open our account with two points, because they will not be easy to come by in the next month. Consider the pressure that will build if we drop this game and then have to venture to Townsville to face the Cowboys in their opening home game.

Even worse would be to lose this game as well as one or two of our key players. Imagine the consequences of the following receiving a long term injury:

Matt Orford – precipitating a return of Michael Monaghan to half back and a resurrection of his concentric circle routine.

Ben Kennedy – and the inevitable loss of his leadership and inspirational abilities.

Steve Menzies – who would be around to clean up the mess left by the enthusiastic youngsters?

Steve Bell – and a return to dual turnstiles lurking on the fringes of our defensive line.

So fingers crossed on two accounts:

1. That our lads don’t let a hint of complacency seep into their preparation or game.
2. That we get through with a win and a clean slate of injuries for the tough assignment the next week.

So be optimistic, but don’t forget that our new optimism can quickly turn to ashes if the ball does not bounce our way. Here’s how we can help:

1. Those in Sydney get to the ground and swell the numbers. Be vocal. We need an intimidating crowd in excess of 20,000 in full voice to inspire the troops.
2. Don’t assume victory and hope that our team is of the same mindset.

Enjoy the season kiddies. It’s good to be back – let’s hope the Matabele snarl and bite doesn’t see too much airplay in 2006.
 

The Fonz

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And on sunday if we lose you'll tout your "i told you so" badge.
If we win you will praise Jason King on his stellar game and proclaim "King is back" and "I told you so".
 

Crushercleal

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Gee, thanks Mata. I've gone from a feeling of optimism because of a potential whipping we'll give the Raiders, to a feeling of downright pessimism as I envision a surprise loss and a host of injuries to key players.
Nah seriously, excellent thoughts and analysis. I still think we'll give them a pasting.
 

Dan

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I rode that like a rollercoaster....

Good write up. But methinks you and Ryan have spent a little too much time chatting
 

Matabele

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Is Ryan tipping us as wooden spooners again?
 

Canteen Worker

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Is Ryan tipping us as wooden spooners again?
Either that or Premiers, Club Champions and winners of the World Club Challenge. Depends which side of the bed he got out of !!! :blaugh: :blaugh: :blaugh:
 

Chip and Chase

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I think any team would struggle with injuries to key players, it's just they way things are with the salary cap spreading the talent around. You just have to keep your fingers crossed that they all stay on the field for the majority of the season.

I'd like to see a tough game to start us off, rather than an easy canter against a lacklustre opposition. We don't want to travel to Townsville underdone. I'd be happy with a grinding forward game and a 16-12 win to build on.
 

The Wheel

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An interesting read as always Matabele. My view if we drop these 2 points we will be in trouble. Beating Canberra at home is what most other teams will achieve as the season wears on.
 

byso

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Great to see another article from you Mata.
 

robbiea

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Pessimism with a shiny slither of optimism . Its been a long time between a Matabele write up.
I really want to feel overly confident for the season .
We really do have a good team this year ,but my worry is ,so does everyone else..
 

byso

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Matabele you have got to be the best Manly "fan" writer I've come across.

Hoping to see more of the same, well done. :clap:
 

Matabele

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I am not worthy of tying the shoelaces of the truly great man - Haig the Viking.
 

cethus

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great write up mata,now ya got me thinking outside the square
 

The Wheel

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I am not worthy of tying the shoelaces of the truly great man - Haig the Viking.

Yes I doubt you could ever write a totally positive article on Manly after a 50 point flogging like the Viking could.
 

Cameron

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as always a great read from the little african, however mata i think you could almost write the same article about the other 14 teams, in this day and age injuries almost go as far as deciding a premier than skill.

Lets just hope our 7 stay fit and any injuries come the way of our number 6 hey mata :dance: :dance:
 

Matabele

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I want Dunley to get injured so Ballin can get a go.
 

PJ

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I want Monas to go to Castleford and free up some $$$$ for Jamie Lyon!
 

robbiea

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I think securing Lyon we will have to let about 4 decent players go.........
 

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