It's time to look back on the weekend it was for the Sea Eagles in Canberra in our weekly 'The Things We Learnt' column with Manly Media Manager Wayne Cousins.
Where did it go?
Well, that was a case of 'the one that got away'. And to think the Sea Eagles were the far better team against the Raiders, well at least until the dying few minutes. Yes, there were a few tough calls against us in the end, but that's footy and sometimes they go your way. And yes, we badly missed suspended hooker Api Koroisau and injured centre Dylan Walker. I'll admit the only time I got a little anxious in the end was after the missed field goal attempt from Trent Hodkinson when we led 20-14. When it missed, that dreaded gut feeling of something bad was going to happen surfaced (first, I thought it was the dodgy burger from the night before). And, of course, it did. The Raiders got the points and we were left with a long, quiet, bus trip home. The trip was made a little bit more pleasant with the superb pizzas from our friends at Crust Belconnen, who always look after us well. Do yourselves a favour, try the Peri Peri chicken pizza!
Okay, pushing the heartbreak aside, there were many positives from the game, starting with the boys playing some great, entertaining footy. Five-eighth Trent Hodkinson was again very good in the first half in leading the team around the park. And his goal kicking was excellent. A quality acquisition to the team. I also thought new second-rower Joel Thompson backed up his strong performances from the wins over Brisbane and Melbourne with another great game. His experience is proving invaluable and he pulled off some great tackles on our line. Plus, it was good to have experienced winger Jorge Taufua back from a collarbone injury. With the season half over already, the finals are looming fast and we have some troops returning, so keep the faith Manly fans.
There were some fine tries scored at GIO Stadium, but to me, the best was the brilliant try from young centre Brian Kelly. After getting the ball early, Kelly produced a great left step to slice past four defenders. He went quicker than last week's pay packet! It was a try that any experienced centre would have been proud to claim, yet alone a 21-year-old in his second season of the NRL. A terrific young talent who we should all get behind. The best is yet to come!
A special shout out to Jack and Chris O'Donohue, who joined Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans in leading the team out on Friday night in between selling beanies for brain cancer research. They are two very impressive young kids who, unfortunately, lost their father to brain cancer in 2013. To see the smile on their faces as they joined Daly was priceless and certainly a special moment for their mum, Emily. We are proud to have you as part of the Sea Eagles 'family'.
Long drive pays off
Just on DCE, he also signed one of his warm up training shirts he gave to a fan prior to our match against Parramatta at ANZ Stadium a few weeks back. That young fan was Oli, who travelled with his family from Orange hoping to get his hero to sign his shirt. Now there is a Sea Eagle for life!
After a few weeks on the road, it is great to be back at our spiritual home ground of Lottoland this Thursday night when we take on the North Queensland Cowboys. If we can reproduce the good performances shown over the past month (and hasn't it been enjoyable), then we will go close to winning again. So forget Thursday night shopping, record your hour long episode of Home and Away, and get out to 'The Fortress' as our boys look to stay in touch with the eight. Plus, it will be the last time Cowboys great Jonathan Thurston plays at our home ground. Come and see the future Immortal and lift your beloved Sea Eagles to victory. See you there!