The Sea Eagles may have been beaten in Golden Point but there was plenty of positives from the opening round match against Newcastle last night. Here is what we learnt.
Courage under fire
Manly Coach Trent Barrett was certainly more than pleased with the courageous effort shown by his players. The goal line defence was superb. However, the low completion rate (67 per cent) and the heavy amount of errors (17) made it very hard for the team to shut the game out in the second half. Fix that, and Manly fans will have plenty to like and cheer about in 2018. This is a serious football team!
Croker is a first grader
Welcome to the Sea Eagles, Lachlan! In just his second NRL game since 2016, this very talented five-eighth turned in a solid club debut. Was strong in defence and did his job in attack. His partnership will continue to build with half Daly Cherry-Evans. The signs are very positive.
By Jorge, he’s back
It was the Jorge Taufua of old. In his first premiership match back from a season ending knee injury, the experienced winger was dynamic. Scored the team’s first try, and made several strong runs and was safe under the ball. Given more time, his partnership with centre Brian Kelly will again be a major plus for the Sea Eagles. As for Kelly, he too scored but it was his toughness and desperation in defence that really stood out, making some crucial tackles. Just getting better all the time and a huge plus for the side.
Hand the kicking tee to DCE
Captain and half-back Daly Cherry-Evans showed why he is more than a reliable goal-kicker. Kicked a great sideline conversion and a 40 metre penalty goal in the 77th minute to send the match into Golden Point. As for his two missed field goals in extra-time, that’s the craziness of extra-time. ‘Chez’ wins more games in Golden Point than he loses. Remember, the two field goals he kicked against the Warriors last season! Will always be the ‘go to’ man in crunch plays.
Water off a duck’s back
Why would you even try to dish out verbal sprays on this bloke? He copped a few last night from some cheeky Knights trying to unsettle him, but you can’t rattle ‘Jakey’. Has the best tackling technique in the game, hits harder than any earthquake, and as for ball skills, well, they just keep on getting better.
Unleash the ‘Beast’
Speaking of toughness, Kelepi Tanginoa showed why he will be a force to be reckoned with in the Manly pack this season. Made several strong runs and is just a beast in attack. Has some really good footwork too. Took it to the Knights as did props Martin Taupau and Addin Fonua-Blake. Tall prop Shaun Lane was also very good off the bench and scored a well-deserved try. Time to get in the ‘bus lane', folks!
Api the warhorse
No-one can ever doubt the workrate of outstanding Manly hooker, Api Koroisau. One of the toughest number nines in the game who plays well above his weight, Api made an astonishing 66 tackles against the Knight…yes, 66 tackles! His team-mates love his creativity from dummy half and he can rip any team apart with his speed from there, but it’s also his huge work in defence that wins plenty of admirers. You can just see him excelling in the number 9 jersey for NSW this season should he get his well-deserved opportunity.
Home crowd makes the difference
With the Knights recruiting more troops than the Australian army over summer, there was plenty of excitement for the locals and their chants of ‘Newcastle, Newcastle ’ were daunting to say the least. It showed again why a packed home crowd can make the difference. Next Sunday, it’s our turn at Lottoland when the Sea Eagles take on fierce-rivals Parramatta. How good would it be to see plenty of maroon and white flags and fans in the crowd. The boys want to hear those famous ‘Manly, Manly’ chants. Cancel any pre-made plans and get to Lottoland. Are You Ready?