Perspective from a Manly supporter
I’m a Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles supporter. Alright, that’s the hard part out of the way. Now onto the rest.
Like most of my fellow Sea Eagles tragics, I’ve been copping it pretty hard over the past 48 hours. Friday night’s game was not pretty to watch. Although I had been hopeful and excited all week, I didn’t expect a win.
In all honesty I’d gone in expecting to lose to a Melbourne side that, although it didn’t have to do too much to overcome a flat South Sydney team in week one of the finals, had been consistent all year and had its core group of key players in better form and shape than Manly’s were.
However I certainly didn’t expect the pasting that will soon become infamous.
It was just one of those nights where nothing went Manly’s way. Dropping the ball inside the first ten seconds. Dropping it again the next time they had possession. Giving away silly penalties. Knocking on from a scrum. Kicking on the third tackle. A dodgy video referee try awarded to Melbourne.
At one point in time the stats note showed that Manly had a completion rate of 6/11 and I wondered to myself how the hell we had managed to complete six sets. It was torture for all 80 minutes.
Ordinarily I can look at a game where Manly have lost and pick out at least one or two periods where they played well. Friday night wasn’t one of those games.
We did score two tries but the first was from a piece of Kieran Foran and Jamie Lyon brilliance and the second was gifted from an uncharacteristic dropped ball by Billy Slater, which was picked up by Lyon who ran 60 metres to score untouched.
Neither try was the result of a sustained period of pressure and good work by our team and, to be honest, I cannot pick out a single period of the game where Manly played well.
Only Joe Galuvao, a 34-year-old journeyman prop who struggles to play more than 40 minutes a game, played well. Anthony Watmough was a liability and was at fault for one of our tries by not even trying to get close to being onside (he looked like he had no idea what he was doing and he certainly wasn’t square at marker).
Daly Cherry-Evans… what a player, what a nice guy and I love the bloke, but he was all at sea. Two penalties for not making the ten metres on a drop-out – what were you thinking, mate?
Brett Stewart missed tackles. Jorge Taufua, our best player over the past month, looked like a deer in headlights and dropped balls. Steve Matai missed one-on-ones and was out of position for most of the game.
Jamie Lyon gave away cheap penalties. Michael Oldfield had a shocker. Brent Kite dropped balls. Tony Williams dropped balls. Glenn Stewart didn’t get into the game and somehow knocked on from the scrum. The list goes on.
It was stunning how the team, after being in such good form over the past couple of months in winning seven of their past nine games, could implode so dramatically in their biggest game of the year.
This team is experienced – only wingers Taufua and Oldfield hadn’t had finals experience before this year – and should know how to handle the big occasions, not crumble from the word go.
There were one or two refereeing mistakes that didn’t help us – specifically the questionable ‘benefit of the doubt’ try early in the first half and the confusing moment when a Melbourne player kicked the ball straight into his own teammate and the referee called play on, rather than give a penalty for offside or a scrum to Manly for accidental offside (admittedly I’m not sure of the exact rule there).
But to suggest (as Cowboys supporters bleated after last week’s game) that it cost us the match is ludicrous. My thoughts on the refereeing mistakes from Friday night are the same as last week – that’s footy. Some you get, some you don’t. No point complaining over it (NQ Cowboys supporters should take note).
If there’s any consolation, it’s that Melbourne didn’t have to do too much to beat us. They had a good first and last 20 and Cameron Smith’s goalkicking was terrible.
As a Manly fan, Friday night’s result will leave me ruing a season that, despite ending on a sour note, was actually quite impressive. The season after a premiership is always a difficult one to impress in but, given the circumstances, despite not taking out the comp again, Manly achieved much more than a pass mark.
Having lost our coach, half of our support staff, dealt with a truckload of injuries and a few individual suspensions, to finish in fourth place and go out in the prelims was a good result.
Hopefully the team – minus those playing elsewhere next year – can pick their heads up, go on with it in 2013 and make the big one again. We certainly have the playing group capable of going all the way next year, and with a bit less bad luck on the injury and suspension front, they’re certainly in with a good chance.
I’ve found myself thinking over the weekend about the excitement I felt this time last year after we rolled the Broncos and qualified for a grand final in a season where everyone had written us off at the start. I was looking forward to having that feeling again this year, but it wasn’t to be.
I’d love for my team to win the premiership every season but it’s only after a season where they don’t that I can confirm with myself that it’s just not possible. The one positive is that games like last night make me look forward to next year even more and I have little doubt that if we do win the comp again soon, it’ll be times like these that make it so sweet.
Congratulations to Melbourne, congratulations to whoever wins the NRL this year. I’ll be watching and hoping that we can overcome you lot in 2013 and rise to the top once again. Despite what happened on Friday night, I’m still proud of my team and proud to be a Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles supporter.
Bring on 2013.
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