The Roar
The Roar


ANALYSIS: Seibold's biggest statement yet as Manly raise 50 - but the Dolphins collapse is well and truly on

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9th June, 2023

Manly have looked a little better of late, but nobody saw this coming.

They produced their best attacking show of the year at Brookvale Oval, beating the clock within the first 20 minutes to blow the Dolphins out of the water.

It finished 58-18 and might have been more, the highest points total seen on the Northern Beaches in 30 years.

Wayne Bennett’s new boys were left shell-shocked by the Sea Eagles early on and never recovered. They lost Brenko Lee and Jeremy Marshall-King to an AC joint injury, but even before they left, the game was done. This was their worst defeat in the NRL and they were worth every penny of it.

“We didn’t play well, it’s pretty simple,” said Bennett. “You don’t need to be a coach to work that out. Why is one I can’t answer for you. 

“We’ve been through so much and handled so much so well that I didn’t expect that we’d play that way. 

“I don’t think there’s a team in the comp that doesn’t have a bad day and a bad game, and we had ours tonight. I hope it’s our last one and we have to make sure it’s our last one. If it’s one bad night we’ll handle it.”

The Sea Eagles were close to their best in defeating Canberra a few weeks ago, before Origin call-ups and injuries struck, but were even better tonight.

Reuben Garrick got three, equalling his own club single points game record of 30 in the process. Tom Trbojevic, Tolu Koula and Jason Saab took doubles and Lachlan Croker grabbed the other, while Daly Cherry-Evans was worth four try assists.


This had been seen as an inflection point in their season, a chance to start the run to the finals positively with crunch games with Parramatta, Melbourne and the Roosters on the horizon. Anthony Seibold could not have asked for more from his charges.

“We had really good preparation, made some positional changes and it seemed to lead to the performance,” sid Seibold. “I’m really proud of the boys.

‘Our spine has only played four games together this year and we’ve scored 150 points in those games. We’re a much better side when those four guys are playing together. 

“Our next challenge is to prepare as well. The scoreboard was in our favour today but next week we need to prepare well and go and put in a consistent performance with a couple of guys missing.”

Manly kick into gear

Let’s get the caveat out of the way: the Dolphins defence was horrendous. 


But beyond that, this was a hugely encouraging night for Seibold. It was the first time since joining the club that he has been able to field his ideal 1-7, with a raft of injuries robbing Manly of the chance to run their best outside backs.

If tonight if anything to go by, things could be about to look up for Manly. While they did get a lot of ball and ruck speed to play with, the manner in which the Sea Eagles put their shape together was very impressive.

Cherry-Evans, as ever, was the schemer-in-chief, but he was matched by Croker down the middle, with the pair combining to spot flat-footed middles.

Further out, Josh Schuster was playing with confidence, and a confident Schuster can be absolutely anything. There’s a reason why Seibold has put so much faith – and effort – into his five eighth.

They shifted wide very early on and kept going there, backing their skills to move the ball and get to their edges. It’s not a new tactic for them in 2023, but this is as good as the Sea Eagles have looked in enacting it.

The quick movement enabled the speed of Koula and Saab to come to the fore, and once that is in the game, few teams will be able to cope.


If you take a smart spine, rapid outside backs and strike back-rowers, then suddenly it looks like a very good attack indeed. 

Manly’s issue has been putting together repeat performances, but as a start to the second half of their year, they couldn’t have asked for much more.

The Dolphins can’t keep this up

For a side that have impressed so much through their resilience across their short history, this was shameful stuff from the Dolphins.

The Sea Eagles couldn’t have wished for more accommodating opponents, with several Dolphins badly found out.

Euan Aitken was ruthlessly targetted early on, twice caught out with no idea if he was meant to come or go when Garrick at the ball. Brenko Lee didn’t fare much better, though he had the reasonable excuse of being injured and was swiftly removed.

Tesi Niu had perhaps the worst moment, watching on as Garrick steamed past him to touch down a kick. As if challenged, Jamayne Isaako did the same on the other side.


The weight of possession was heavily in Manly’s favour, but the Dolphins were well behind before that kicked in. Saab scored on the corner on the first decent chance that the Sea Eagles got, Garrick went over on the second. 

It’s a night to forget for the Dolphins, and after last week’s collapse against the Warriors, should set alarm bells going off in Redcliffe. Bennett needs to get on top of this before it becomes a major problem.