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Sea Eagles opt for rest over feast of easy points

Bringing back the biff ... Nathan Hindmarsh strikes at Steve Matai.

Bringing back the biff ... Nathan Hindmarsh strikes at Steve Matai.

Manly gave us a taste of the good, the bad and the ugly in their win over Parramatta yesterday.

They say it's hard to be grim when you don't have to be. Maybe so. Manly are certainly not the first team in history to have a game won a long way from home with a huge lead and then suddenly start looking for an easy passage to the full-time siren.

But given their position on the ladder and the importance of a top-four finish come September, one would have expected them to be more ruthless in their endeavours to post as big a winning margin as possible against their understrength rivals. Instead the Manly boys virtually downed tools and coasted for the remainder of the contest in a very meek display.

In allowing Parramatta to score a cheaply earned 24 points of their own in the latter stages of the match, Manly squandered a perfect opportunity to improve their for-and-against scoring statistics and make a statement about their 2012 title credentials. Hopefully, it doesn't come back to bite them, but if they miss out on a top-four position through points differential, they will only have themselves to blame.

In a sometimes brilliant, sometimes nonchalant, but always entertaining first 45 minutes from Manly, they outclassed their rivals and raced to a 40-0 lead. Winger David Williams scored four first-half tries. This bag of touchdowns and the lopsided scoreline had statisticians reaching for the history books with several records begging to be broken on a sunny winter's day. Most tries in a game. Most points in a game. Biggest winning margins. It seemed all would fall before full-time, provided Manly didn't lose interest or run out of puff.

At this stage the Eels were offering only token resistance. Under-strength and lacking direction, they resembled a star-struck schoolboy team playing more illustrious rivals. They were not competing in the collisions, and often found themselves watching the defending premiers go about their work.

The Sea Eagles were diligent in their ball movement, and at the critical points were punching holes in the visitors' defensive line at will. Parramatta's youngsters protecting the right side of the field had no answer for the might and skill of Manly's Kieran Foran, Brett Stewart, Tony Williams, Steve Matai and Jorge Taufua. Every time Manly moved the ball in this direction they found space, making easy metres down the left side of the field. If they didn't score on that play (and twice they did), they simply spun the ball to the opposite side of the field to outnumber Parramatta's disorganised line and score in the right corner. This sequence occurred on three occasions, all resulting in tries to David Williams.

The other Williams in the Manly team, Big Tony, is a mountain of a man, an absolute powerhouse. I'd hate to see what would happen if he ever got angry with them. At the moment he is content to play when he has to. He is not chasing extra work on the field. At times you get the feeling he is even taking it easy on his smaller opponents. He stands and pushes them away rather than stomp all over them, as I'm sure he is capable of doing.

Parramatta should be given credit for their second-half effort. Missing a number of key players, the first half would have been an intimidating environment for some of their younger players as the score ran against them. So to rally with the coach at half-time and put in a better second period deserves praise.

It's hard to know how Manly will feel after this match. In the end a win is a win, I suppose, but I suspect that if they did try to sing the team song after the game, it would have been a bit like swallowing broken glass.

Better days ahead, perhaps.

10 comments so far

  • Guss, yes it was disappointing to see the for and against opportunity slip so badly.

    The problem was probably as much to do with the full back and left winger both leaving the field injurred at the same time. This left Manly with a good centre playing out of position at fullback and reserves playing in the centre and left wing.

    Jamie Bruher was found wanting. First of all he had a fantastic 50 metre run, but went out just beyond half way. Instead of Manly probably scoring from such a long break with Parramatta strugling to get back in defence; going out instead gave Parramatta good field position which lead to their first try. Then twice he was caught well out of position with two further tries down his wing.

    I'm not sure what Bob Fulton saw in him in regards to his recommendation to put him in to State of Origin one. At least we did not lose Matt Ballin because of his wrong opinion.

    RM Northern Beaches
    Date and time
    July 09, 2012, 10:59AM
    • I feel as though you're being harsh on Buhrer; I can't recall ever having seen him play on the wing before.

      hired goon
      Date and time
      July 09, 2012, 1:57PM
    • Hello hired goon.

      You could be right and I hope I am wrong. I started watching Bruher's game after I heard that they were going to let Matt Ballin go in preference to Bruher. In my opinion Matt Ballin is a far superior player.

      Bruher is supposed to be a utility player, however whenever I saw him play as a forward he looked like a speed bump and now when he played on the wing, he contributed to 3 Parramatta tries, 1 as a result of going out and the other 2 for being out of position.

      I would have much preferred to see Manly keep Oldfield for his speed on the wing, rather than a fill in utility player.

      I hope Bruher improves, maybe he is carrying an injury and I wish him well with his career.

      Manly will win the premiership, if it has all or at least all but one of its best players on the field, however any more than one of the better players out will mean they will struggle. The difference in the side after taking 2 players off on Sunday, resultant reshuffling and putting 2 reserve players on, demonstrated the difference in standard. Manly's depth could be its Achilles heel, or at the least the stark different between the replacements and Manly stars.

      RM Northern Beaches
      Date and time
      July 09, 2012, 3:16PM
    • RM Northern Beaches - I think that the factor which would have determined whether or not Ballin stayed was if we managed to hold on to T-Rex. Buhrer looks like he will develop into a good ball playing back rower, like Glenn Stewart. It might take a couple of more years, though.

      Having said all that, maybe the better option for Tooves on Sunday would have been putting T-Rex on the wing - he's played there before, after all.

      I agree with you about preferring to keep Oldfield, given how often Wolfy gets injured.

      hired goon
      Date and time
      July 09, 2012, 8:33PM
    • Hello again hired goon,

      My mail is that Manly were looking at Bruher as a long term hooker and no doubt thought that Matt Ballin was past his best and a luxury they could not fit under the salary cap.

      However in my opinion Matt Ballin is the workaholic linchpin of Manly's centre ruck defence, his work rate is unbelievable and I liken it to Hindmarsh 2 or 3 years ago. By the way, Hindmarsh is the reason why some pretty average Parramatta forwards are now being found out, i.e. now that Hindmarsh is too old to do the work of 3 forwards. Matt Ballin is also an exceptional dummy half, has a good kick out of dummy half, extremely strong and quick thinking player, as was seen with his try in the 2008 GF.

      I hope you are right re Bruher and he develops in to a good back rower, maybe with a bit more weight, strength and experience. Good luck to him.

      RM Northern Beaches
      Date and time
      July 10, 2012, 12:03PM
  • September 30 2012: Sea Eagles vs Bulldogs

    Drew Blood
    Date and time
    July 09, 2012, 1:41PM
    • No Storm? No Rabbitohs? Big call (disclosure: I am a chooks fan)

      The Couch
      Date and time
      July 10, 2012, 12:07AM
    • G'Day Growler,
      There are some very good teams up near the top of the table, so I reckon a punter has to go with a gut call.
      Just as interesting at the bottom where only two things will stop the Dragons collecting a rare wooden spoon – ie. the Eels and the Panthers. OK, maybe not the Panthers.

      Drew Blood
      Date and time
      July 10, 2012, 1:35PM
    • Hello Drew Blood.

      I hope your are right with Sea Eagles vs Bulldogs, especially the Sea Eagles bit.

      I'm going to go out on a limb here, however I think the Bulldogs are already playing at their peak and I suspect they will slip back towards the business end of the competition when other better teams with better players lift a gear and will come in about 5th or 6th. To add to that, I think Cronulla and Souths are in the same boat and could both miss the eight.

      RM Northern Beaches
      Date and time
      July 10, 2012, 2:08PM
  • @RM Northern Beaches
    no team carries 2 backs on the bench. some carry one. most carry a utility forward these days. you take out 2 speed players and replace them with forwrads you will get found out positionally firstly, and then you are also likely to get beaten on the chase.
    i dont think there was too much to worry about - be dissapointed but dont be too worried. whare and oldfield cant help if they are not on the field or on the bench.

    interested observer
    Date and time
    July 09, 2012, 6:45PM

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