JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Storm must pick big pack to counter Manly brawn

Geoff Toovey ... intense operator.

Geoff Toovey ... intense operator. Photo: Quentin Jones

Two months ago, none of the other semi-final-bound teams wanted to meet the Bulldogs in the grand final.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy told me at the time: ''If the NRL played the grand final now, Canterbury would win easily. They are a level above everyone.''

Des Hasler's boys were playing a brutally brilliant style, ruthless efficiency mixed with daring, a cross between the grit of the old Bulldogs and the glitz of the new Canterbury.

One month ago, when the Bulldogs were thrashed 34-6 by the Raiders, coaches were tipping the Sea Eagles to make their second successive grand final.

They were on a six-match winning streak and playing the defiant, almost contemptuous style of reigning premiers. Their key players from last year's premiership team seemed hungry for another title.

However, two weeks ago, following the Sea Eagles' semi-final loss to the Bulldogs, the Cowboys suddenly appeared on the horizon.

The Storm's assistant coaches were tracking their rope-'em-in-and-gallop-away style, and were impressed with fullback Matt Bowen, who was playing the best football of his career.

But instead of meeting the North Queensland team in Friday night's preliminary final in Melbourne, the Storm will now face their old nemeses, the Sea Eagles, following Manly's 22-12 victory over the Cowboys at the weekend.

And the Bulldogs will play South Sydney at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night, following the Rabbitohs' 38-16 win over Canberra.

The winner of the Bulldogs-Rabbitohs preliminary final will return to the venue to play the Melbourne-Manly victor in the last NRL game of the year on the last day of September.

Manly are battle-hardened and know how to win crucial games. They do not fear Melbourne.

Last year, the Sea Eagles anticipated playing them in the grand final, having accounted for the Cowboys in the preliminary final with slightly more ease than they did on Friday night.

Melbourne and Manly met at Brookvale in the second-last round last year, and it was a bloody, bitter battle, with the Sea Eagles convinced they had the measure of Bellamy's men.

Manly, then coached by Hasler, were set to duplicate the intimidating, physically dominating, streetfight style that worked so well and resulted in the Storm's best second/front-row forward, Adam Blair, being suspended.

But the Storm were surprisingly beaten in their preliminary final by a big, relatively error-free Warriors team, and the third grand final in five years between these two warring clubs did not eventuate.

They are now on the same side of the draw, and Bellamy must select a big pack and decide on tactics to counter the Sea Eagles' conviction they can outmuscle Melbourne.

While the Manly forwards relish the opportunity of getting into a gang fight with Melbourne, their new coach, Geoff Toovey, might not adopt the same game plan.

The Sea Eagles demonstrated their versatility against the Cowboys, with some plays seeming ad lib, even bordering on bizarre.

They moved the ball from a tap penalty so wide to the right, their winger risked being recruited by local member Tony Abbott.

It's instructive to recall the last time the teams met, a round 15 match at Brookvale, won 26-22 by the Storm. At the post-game press conference, Toovey was both intense and incensed, critical of the Storm's ruck defence and looking vengeful.

Two weeks earlier, the Bulldogs and Rabbitohs had played a match where Canterbury reversed a round-six win by Souths.

Despite the closeness of the scores (23-18 and 20-10 respectively), the Bulldogs would prefer to play the Rabbitohs than the Raiders.

It's not so much Canterbury's memory of that 34-6 loss only three weeks ago. Souths surge and fade in games. They will not welcome a high-intensity, end-to-end, no-rest, up-tempo skillathon.

Canterbury can play that style of football and Hasler has all the sports science weaponry to compensate for his team having had a week's break.

The low penalty count in the semi-finals won't suit Souths. Sure, it was only 4-4 against Canberra but the Raiders had stage fright.

The Bulldogs will keep the ball in play, and if it's an eight-penalty game, they should win.

Manly and Melbourne also prefer a no-stoppage game, but the 80 minutes of hell defence could leave the victors exhausted for the big dance on September 30.

4 comments so far

  • Last year Manly beat the Cowboys in the Qualifying Final, not the Preliminary Final.

    Commenter
    nitabita
    Date and time
    September 17, 2012, 7:45AM
    • Manly have had the wood on Storm like no other team. Should they win and play the dogs they should have learn't from losing to the dogs only 2 weeks ago. On that basis are we back to saying Manly are the team to beat again! I think yes.

      The Storms big 3 could easily be called the big 4 the way Ryan Hoffman has been playing.

      And in the U20s we have potentially a grand final of 7 v 8 ironically in the year the finals format changed!

      I'd like to see an article about each teams credentials as far as premierships go. I know that for Souths Inglis and Crocker have won premierships but who else and how few dogs premiership players are within their ranks? With the Storms clean out do they have as many ring wearers as you might assume? We're back to Manly as having the most I believe.....

      Commenter
      Matt
      Location
      Stanwell
      Date and time
      September 17, 2012, 1:34PM
      • Beware when Roy Masters is talking up (or respectfully about) Manly - he hasn't fallen off a donkey on the road to Damascus. Melbourne go into Friday night as clear favourites - they have the big two and the big one, Cameron Smith, great forwards - particularly Ryan Hoffman and an ineffable grinding structure and they will wrestle the bejaysus out of Manly. And if Manly win, it could just be their GF, emotionally and physically. That's Manly's radar to fly under if you please Roy.

        Commenter
        Niall
        Location
        Darwin
        Date and time
        September 17, 2012, 8:06PM
        • How many packs do you think we have, Roy - a big one, a small one and a few others besides?

          We could just pick the pack the dominated the Eagles at their place just two months ago - only a close game due to the video refs being in an odd mood that night.

          And most nights since, come to mention it.

          Commenter
          Crompy
          Location
          Hobart
          Date and time
          September 18, 2012, 10:12PM

          Make a comment

          You are logged in as [Logout]

          All information entered below may be published.

          Error: Please enter your screen name.

          Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

          Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

          Error: Please enter your comment.

          Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

          Post to

          You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

          Thank you

          Your comment has been submitted for approval.

          Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

          NRL Season 2014

          Round 1
          Thu, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
          SOU 28 vs SYD 8 Report Stats
          Fri, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
          BUL 12 vs BRI 18 Stats
          Sat, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
          PEN 30 vs NEW 8 Report Stats
          MAN 22 vs MEL 23 Report Stats
          NQL 28 vs CAN 22 Report Stats
          Sun, 09 MarTimes shown AEDT
          STG 44 vs WES 24 Report Stats
          PAR 36 vs NZW 16 Report Stats
          Mon, 10 MarTimes shown AEDT
          CRO 12 vs GCT 18 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 2
          Fri, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
          MAN 14 vs SOU 12 Report Stats
          BRI 16 vs NQL 12 Report Stats
          Sat, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
          NZW 12 vs STG 31 Report Stats
          MEL 18 vs PEN 17 Report Stats
          SYD 56 vs PAR 4 Report Stats
          Sun, 16 MarTimes shown AEDT
          GCT 12 vs WES 42 Report Stats
          NEW 20 vs CAN 26 Report Stats
          Mon, 17 MarTimes shown AEDT
          BUL 42 vs CRO 4 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 3
          Fri, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
          WES 25 vs SOU 16 Report Stats
          BRI 26 vs SYD 30 Report Stats
          Sat, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
          PEN 18 vs BUL 16 Report Stats
          CRO 12 vs STG 14 Report Stats
          NQL 16 vs NZW 20 Report Stats
          Sun, 23 MarTimes shown AEDT
          MAN 22 vs PAR 18 Report Stats
          CAN 12 vs GCT 24 Stats
          Mon, 24 MarTimes shown AEDT
          MEL 28 vs NEW 20 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 4
          Fri, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
          SYD vs MAN 8 Report Stats
          STG 20 vs BRI 36 Report Stats
          Sat, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
          NZW 42 vs WES 18 Report Stats
          PAR 32 vs PEN 16 Report Stats
          BUL 40 vs MEL 12 Report Stats
          Sun, 30 MarTimes shown AEDT
          SOU 18 vs CAN 30 Report Stats
          NEW 30 vs CRO Report Stats
          Mon, 31 MarTimes shown AEDT
          GCT 13 vs NQL 12 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 5
          Fri, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
          SYD 8 vs BUL 9 Report Stats
          BRI 18 vs PAR 25 Report Stats
          Sat, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
          CRO 37 vs NZW 6 Report Stats
          PEN 12 vs CAN 6 Report Stats
          STG 6 vs SOU 26 Report Stats
          Sun, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
          MEL 26 vs GCT 28 Report Stats
          WES 34 vs MAN 18 Report Stats
          Mon, 07 AprTimes shown AEST
          NQL 28 vs NEW 2 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 6
          Fri, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
          PEN 2 vs SOU 18 Report Stats
          GCT 12 vs BRI 8 Report Stats
          Sat, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
          CAN 12 vs NEW 26 Report Stats
          PAR 14 vs SYD 12 Report Stats
          WES 16 vs NQL 4 Report Stats
          Sun, 13 AprTimes shown AEST
          NZW 20 vs BUL 21 Report Stats
          MAN 24 vs CRO 4 Report Stats
          Mon, 14 AprTimes shown AEST
          MEL 28 vs STG 24 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 7
          Fri, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
          SOU 14 vs BUL 15 Report Stats
          NEW 6 vs BRI 32 Report Stats
          MAN 26 vs NQL 21 Report Stats
          Sat, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
          STG 20 vs NZW 10 Report Stats
          CRO 18 vs SYD 24 Report Stats
          Sun, 20 AprTimes shown AEST
          CAN 24 vs MEL 22 Report Stats
          Mon, 21 AprTimes shown AEST
          PAR 18 vs WES 21 Report Stats
          PEN 14 vs GCT 12 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 8
          Fri, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
          STG 14 vs SYD 34 Report Stats
          MEL 10 vs NZW 16 Report Stats
          BRI 26 vs SOU 28 Report Stats
          Sat, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
          CRO 24 vs PEN 20 Report Stats
          NQL 42 vs PAR 14 Report Stats
          BUL 16 vs NEW 12 Report Stats
          Sun, 27 AprTimes shown AEST
          MAN 54 vs CAN 18 Report Report Stats
          WES 6 vs GCT 22 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 9
          Fri, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
          SYD 30 vs WES 6 Report Stats
          NQL 27 vs BRI 14 Report Stats
          Sat, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
          NZW 54 vs CAN 12 Report Stats
          GCT 18 vs SOU 40 Report Stats
          MEL 22 vs MAN 19 Report Stats
          Sun, 11 MayTimes shown AEST
          NEW 10 vs PEN 32 Report Stats
          STG 6 vs BUL 38 Report Stats
          Mon, 12 MayTimes shown AEST
          PAR 42 vs CRO 24 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 10
          Fri, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
          SOU 14 vs MEL 27 Report Stats
          BRI 22 vs GCT 8 Report Stats
          Sat, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
          PAR 36 vs STG Report Stats
          CRO 20 vs WES 22 Report Stats
          NQL 42 vs SYD 10 Report Stats
          Sun, 18 MayTimes shown AEST
          CAN 20 vs PEN 26 Report Stats
          BUL 16 vs NZW 12 Report Stats
          Mon, 19 MayTimes shown AEST
          MAN 15 vs NEW 14 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 11
          Fri, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
          BUL 12 vs SYD 32 Report Stats
          Sat, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
          GCT 16 vs NZW 24 Report Stats
          WES 14 vs BRI 16 Report Stats
          Sun, 25 MayTimes shown AEST
          CAN 42 vs NQL 12 Report Stats
          Mon, 26 MayTimes shown AEST
          CRO vs SOU 18 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 12
          Fri, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
          PEN 38 vs PAR 12 Report Stats
          Sat, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
          SYD 26 vs CAN 12 Report Stats
          NQL 22 vs MEL Report Stats
          Sun, 01 JunTimes shown AEST
          NZW 38 vs NEW 18 Report Stats
          BRI 36 vs MAN 10 Report Stats
          Mon, 02 JunTimes shown AEST
          SOU 29 vs STG 10 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 13
          Fri, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
          MAN 32 vs BUL 10 Report Stats
          PAR 18 vs NQL 16 Report Stats
          Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
          GCT 14 vs PEN 36 Report Stats
          STG 30 vs CRO Report Stats
          SOU 34 vs NZW 18 Report Stats
          Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
          NEW 20 vs WES 23 Report Stats
          MEL 12 vs SYD 32 Report Stats
          Mon, 09 JunTimes shown AEST
          CAN 4 vs BRI 28 Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 14
          Fri, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
          SOU 32 vs WES 10 Report Stats
          Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
          PEN 18 vs STG 14 Report Stats
          SYD 29 vs NEW 12 Report Stats
          Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
          BUL 12 vs PAR 22 Report Stats
          Mon, 16 JunTimes shown AEST
          GCT 20 vs MEL 24 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 15
          Fri, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
          CAN 14 vs BUL 22 Report Stats
          Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
          NZW 19 vs BRI 10 Report Stats
          CRO vs MAN 26 Report Stats
          Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
          MEL 46 vs PAR 20 Report Stats
          GCT 18 vs STG 19 Report Stats
          Mon, 23 JunTimes shown AEST
          NEW 36 vs NQL 28 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 16
          Fri, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
          MAN 24 vs SYD 16 Report Stats
          BRI 22 vs CRO 24 Report Stats
          Sat, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
          WES 19 vs CAN 18 Report Report Stats
          NQL 20 vs SOU 18 Report Stats
          Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
          NZW 30 vs PEN 20 Report Stats
          PAR 10 vs NEW 16 Report Stats
          Mon, 30 JunTimes shown AEST
          STG 24 vs MEL 12 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 17
          Fri, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
          BUL 23 vs MAN 16 Report Stats
          Sat, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
          STG 27 vs NQL 24 Report Stats
          SYD 28 vs CRO 30 Report Stats
          Sun, 06 JulTimes shown AEST
          WES 10 vs PEN 26 Report Stats
          Mon, 07 JulTimes shown AEST
          SOU 10 vs GCT 14 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 18
          Fri, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
          MAN 40 vs WES 8 Report Stats
          Sat, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
          NZW 48 vs PAR Report Stats
          MEL 4 vs BUL 6 Report Stats
          Sun, 13 JulTimes shown AEST
          GCT 20 vs CAN 36 Report Stats
          CRO 18 vs NEW 31 Report Stats
          Mon, 14 JulTimes shown AEST
          PEN 35 vs BRI 34 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 19
          Fri, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
          CRO 18 vs NQL 36 Report Stats
          PAR 12 vs SOU 32 Report Stats
          Sat, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
          SYD 32 vs PEN 12 Report Stats
          MEL 28 vs CAN 14 Report Stats
          BRI 28 vs NZW 22 Report Stats
          Sun, 20 JulTimes shown AEST
          NEW 8 vs GCT 22 Report Stats
          WES 46 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
          Mon, 21 JulTimes shown AEST
          STG 12 vs MAN 21 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 20
          Fri, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
          NEW 16 vs SYD 12 Report Stats
          BRI 8 vs MEL 30 Stats
          Sat, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
          PEN 16 vs CRO 18 Report Stats
          GCT 18 vs PAR 24 Stats
          BUL 12 vs NQL 20 Report Stats
          Sun, 27 JulTimes shown AEST
          NZW 12 vs MAN 22 Report Stats
          WES 12 vs STG 28 Stats
          Mon, 28 JulTimes shown AEST
          CAN 18 vs SOU 34 Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 21
          Fri, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
          MAN 16 vs BRI 4 Report Stats
          BUL 16 vs PEN 22 Stats
          Sat, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
          CRO 12 vs PAR 32 Report Stats
          NQL 28 vs GCT 8 Stats
          SYD 30 vs STG 22 Stats
          Sun, 03 AugTimes shown AEST
          CAN 18 vs NZW 54 Stats
          SOU 50 vs NEW 10 Stats
          Mon, 04 AugTimes shown AEST
          WES 6 vs MEL 28 Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 22
          Fri, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
          SOU 23 vs MAN 4 Report Stats
          BRI 41 vs BUL 10 Report Stats
          Sat, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
          NEW 32 vs MEL 30 Report Stats
          NQL 64 vs WES 6 Report Stats
          PAR 18 vs CAN 10 Report Stats
          Sun, 10 AugTimes shown AEST
          NZW 16 vs CRO 12 Report Stats
          STG 4 vs PEN 16 Stats
          Mon, 11 AugTimes shown AEST
          SYD 26 vs GCT 18 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 23
          Thu, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
          SOU 42 vs BRI 16 Report Stats
          Fri, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
          PAR 16 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
          Sat, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
          CAN 16 vs STG 34 Report Stats
          MEL 48 vs CRO 6 Report Stats
          WES 4 vs SYD 48 Report Stats
          Sun, 17 AugTimes shown AEST
          NEW 28 vs NZW 22 Report Stats
          GCT 12 vs MAN 15 Report Stats
          Mon, 18 AugTimes shown AEST
          PEN 23 vs NQL 22 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 24
          Thu, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
          BUL 30 vs WES 10 Stats
          Fri, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
          PAR 22 vs MAN 12 Report Stats
          Sat, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
          BRI 48 vs NEW 6 Report Stats
          SOU 10 vs NQL 22 Report Stats
          Sun, 24 AugTimes shown AEST
          NZW 12 vs SYD 46 Report Stats
          CRO 12 vs CAN 22 Stats
          STG 34 vs GCT 6 Stats
          Mon, 25 AugTimes shown AEST
          PEN 10 vs MEL 24 Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 25
          Thu, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
          BUL 14 vs SOU 21 Stats
          Fri, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
          BRI 30 vs STG 22 Stats
          Sat, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
          NEW 42 vs PAR 12 Stats
          CAN 27 vs WES 12 Stats
          SYD 24 vs MEL 12 Stats
          Sun, 31 AugTimes shown AEST
          NZW 42 vs GCT Stats
          MAN 26 vs PEN 25 Stats
          Mon, 01 SepTimes shown AEST
          NQL 20 vs CRO 19 Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 26
          Thu, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
          SYD 22 vs SOU 18 Stats
          Fri, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
          MEL 22 vs BRI 12 Stats
          Sat, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
          WES 26 vs CRO 10 Report Stats
          CAN 33 vs PAR 20 Stats
          NQL 30 vs MAN 16 Report Stats
          Sun, 07 SepTimes shown AEST
          NEW 40 vs STG 10 Report Stats
          GCT 19 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
          PEN 22 vs NZW 6 Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Finals Week 1
          Fri, 12 SepTimes shown AEST
          MAN 24 vs SOU 40 Report Stats
          Sat, 13 SepTimes shown AEST
          SYD 18 vs PEN 19 Report Stats
          NQL 32 vs BRI 20 Report Stats
          Sun, 14 SepTimes shown AEST
          MEL 4 vs BUL 28 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Finals Week 2
          Fri, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
          SYD 31 vs NQL 30 Report Stats
          Sat, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
          MAN 17 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Preliminary Finals
          Fri, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
          SOU 32 vs SYD 22 Report Stats
          Sat, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
          PEN 12 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Grand Final
          Sun, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
          SOU 30 vs BUL 6 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          NRL Premiership - 2014 Ladder
          Overall standings
          Team P W L D +/- Pts
          Sydney Roosters 24 16 8 0 230 36
          Manly 24 16 8 0 103 36
          South Sydney 24 15 9 0 224 34
          Penrith 24 15 9 0 80 34
          North Queensland 24 14 10 0 190 32
          Melbourne 24 14 10 0 76 32
          Canterbury-Bankstown 24 13 11 0 7 30
          Brisbane 24 12 12 0 93 28
          View all
           
          Win an iPad mini by entering our Sport survey
          Featured advertisers