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The big match

Discussion in 'Rugby League Forum' started by Berkeley_Eagle, Jul 12, 2008.

  1. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan

    +2,125 /14
    The big match - Cronulla v Manly

    Greg Prichard | July 12, 2008

    Tonight, Toyota Stadium, 7.30pm.
    What the Sharks say:

    Cronulla are expecting a different Manly to the one that was a bit rusty when the Sharks beat them 16-10 at Brookvale Oval in the opening round. "They were a little underdone after last year's grand final," injured Sharks star Greg Bird said. "We were pretty pumped." But the Sharks rightfully consider that they have improved as well.
    What the Sea Eagles say:
    Coach Des Hasler says that because critics talk up Melbourne, Manly and the Roosters more than the other top-four team - Cronulla - the Sharks will be very keen to make a statement. "'Sticky' [Cronulla coach Ricky Stuart] is a master at getting them up for a big game," Hasler said. "They'll be looking to show everyone where they're at in this competition."
    What Prichard says:
    This game will be played with finals-like intensity. It won't be a free-scoring affair, but one that is played at high speed by two teams that will look to force the other into errors and then take advantage. Both teams are strong in defence, particularly in their own 20 metres, and it is likely the difference will come via a try off a kick or a long-range effort that is the result of someone breaking a tackle wide of the ruck. If you like to see two teams going at it relentlessly, trying to make each other crack, then this is your game. I reckon it's shaping up as the game of the year so far. Who will win? Most likely the team that scores last - that's how close it should be. I'm tipping Manly, because they have a couple more players capable of breaking the game open, but the ability of the Sharks to keep getting the job done must be respected.
    For the Sharks to win:
    Cronulla have increased their scoring average in their past six games, but at the same time they have conceded more points than they did earlier in the season. Their attack is not the key here - it's their defence. If they manage to come up with several tries but their defence gets a bit slack, the Sea Eagles will out-score them. But if they defend as stubbornly as they can do, they can keep the game tight and possibly nick a win. They will miss Bird's toughness in a game like this, but the return of fullback Brett Kearney is a big plus. He was in great form before injuring his ankle.
    For the Sea Eagles to win:
    They have basically got to keep doing what they've been doing, but take it up another notch - and keep their error rate right down. It is hard enough to win a big game like this away from home without making it harder for yourselves by dropping too much ball or missing too many tackles. Mistakes always seem more critical when you're not playing on your own home ground. Manly have got the metre-eating props, back-rowers who can slice through wide of the ruck, in-form halves and plenty of try-scorers outside of them. And they're great defensively. If they play to their strengths, they're right in it.
    The X-factor:
    In a game where clean breaks are likely to be rare, the metres rival fullbacks Kearney and Manly's Brett Stewart make on kick-returns and rival hookers Isaac De Gois (Cronulla) and Matt Ballin steal out of dummy-half could give one of the two teams an edge.
    What the bookies say:
    Most of the money has been for Cronulla, but while they have firmed a bit, they are still the outsiders. Sportsbook.com.au has Manly at $1.71 and the Sharks at $2.15.
    Late mail:
    Hasler said centre Steve Matai had overcome a bruised lung and would play. Both sides are intact.


    Noddy's verdict: Sea Eagles not half bad

    Jason Avedissian

    12 July 2008

    THEY swapped jobs nearly a decade ago when a rising young Matt Orford left the Eagles for Melbourne.

    In his place came ex-Storm premiership winning general Brett Kimmorley, who arrived at Brookvale for one forgettable year in 2001.

    "The club there now is not the same club as when I was there," the Sharks half said on the eve of tonight's cracker between Manly and Cronulla at Toyota Stadium.

    "They were in a merger that no-one was really comfortable with and the club was struggling financially to survive.

    "These days the club is stronger than ever before."

    So strong that Kimmorley has boldly predicted the Sea Eagles 2008 version is stronger than last year's beaten grand finalists.

    "I think they are a better side than last year," he told The Manly Daily last night.

    "They have got more attacking abilities.

    "When Michael Monaghan left everyone questioned how they would compete without him. But they have responded well and have some very, very dangerous players."

    And his Eagles' successor is one of them.

    Orford returned to Manly in 2006, steering the club to last year's decider against his old club.

    "If Orford plays well, then they go very well, that's the key for them," Kimmorley said.

    "We've had some pretty good clashes over the years."

    But it appears none will be as good as tonight.

    "We need to go to another level," Orford said.

    "It's the start of the most important period of the year for us.

    "We've got some tough games coming up and this is going to be a great test for us."


    Coaches' shootout


    12 July 2008

    IT will be trench warfare from the opening whistle at Toyota Park tonight when the Beach Boys Manly and Cronulla go at it as the run into the finals in the NRL hots up.

    The on-field battle will be fierce and so too will be the atmosphere in the respective coaches' boxes where two of the game's most respected coaches will work the walkie-talkies overtime.

    Des Hasler and Ricky Stuart are amazingly similar in just about every aspect. They were wonderful halfbacks who have won premierships for their respective clubs, played for their state in Origin and in Tests for Australia. Hasler played 287 first grade games in his career and Stuart 243. Hasler played 12 Tests for Australia and Stuart 9; Hasler wore the blue jersey of NSW 13 times and Stuart 14.

    Hasler has a 56.41 per cent success rate in his first grade coaching career (74 per cent and 73 per cent over the past two seasons) to Stuart's overall record of 58.24 per cent.

    They have both been working overtime this week preparing their respective teams for what will be a battle royal. They have remained very much in the background knowing their troops don't need any motivation for tonight.

    And they have planned the preparation for kick-off with military precision. The players have under orders said very little in the lead-up to the game but the body language is a dead giveaway. They are on countdown to kick-off time at 7.30pm tonight.

    I drove Manly prop Josh Perry to a photo shoot with Sharks prop Ben Ross earlier in the week at the SCG, where 30 years ago Manly and Cronulla battled for the premiership title. The result is on the back page of the Daily yesterday. The two clashed like runaway rhinos at Brookvale Oval in round two with Ross knocked out in a legitimate front-on charge by Perry.

    Both big men shook hands and smiled for the cameras when they met for the shoot and both were careful with their answers to questions from The Daily Telegraph journalist Dean Ritchie.

    They were under instructions from their respective coaches not to give the opposition any ammunition. Hasler and Stuart were team mates on the 1990 Kangaroo tour of England when a career in coaching was little more than a faraway dream.

    But it's evident that their Kangaroo coach Bob Fulton had a marked effect on both men. There is plenty of Bozo in both Hasler and Stuart in their coaching and take no prisoners approach to the game. Kick off can't come quick enough and for the record Manly have gone to the Shire 28 times since 1967 to play the Sharks the record stands at 14 all. Look for a tight final scoreline at full time tonight.


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