Manly Sea Eagles 2010 Season ... Inconsistent
Where’s the season gone? I go away for a while and come back at that time of year when Manly usually shine… only to see my team struggling big time.
By Dave Keogh
Even with our star fullback Brett Stewart and rep. winger ‘The Wolf Man’ out for the year, I still thought we were in with a chance of repeating the glory of two years ago.
Instead, the Sea Eagles have delivered their most inconsistent season in years… and ‘The Fortress’ is no more. With the exception of ‘that’ game against The Dragons, I’ve seen way more losses than wins at Brookie this year. And even the wins have been as tight as the proverbial fishes’, with young Trent Hodkinson required to be our last minute saviour on two occasions. It was the same story last Sunday.
I couldn’t believe what I was watching against the lowly placed Bulldogs on the weekend. For a team that used to pride itself on defence, there were just way too many one-on-one misses by Manly in the first half when the teams went tit for tat in terms of scoring tries. We went in at two points down and then our second half effort was up there with the rubbish we’ve produced all season.
Chance after chance went begging due to schoolboy mistakes, some from players who have been among our most reliable this year. Passes going to ground… or out over the sideline… knock-ons on the 1st and 2nd tackle… and three ridiculous high tackles, which have pretty much cost us any chance in the Finals series.
We’re dead lucky to even be there, limping into 8th spot on the back of the Dragons’ last round win over the Rabbitohs, playing with half their first grade team on the sidelines through injury. (My guess is St George went flat out to win this one to make sure they played us next weekend instead of a rampaging Raiders side.)
It was so disappointing to see a team that had so much to play for over the last month lose must-win matches against the likes of Newcastle and Canterbury. Even more so when you consider how bloody well they played for 39 minutes against the Roosters. And I know ‘we wuz robbed’ in that one… again – but even the most loyal fan must admit that apart from the odd game here and there, we just haven’t been an 80 minute side all season.
2010 Season Wrap
I would like to throw a hearty ‘goodonya’ to several players who have been fantastic for us all year. Ben Farrar has been good in just about every match he’s played… I can’t believe the salary cap is likely to force him to move to the UK next year. He was among our best again last Sunday.
As was Steve Matai until the brain explosion that will likely see him miss the next 7 of Manly’s games! (I know Ennis is a pest Steve, but what were you thinking?!!!) Matai’s been tough and skilful throughout 2010 – a threat to every team we’ve played, week in, week out.
Michael Robertson’s had another standout season… even when played out of position. He just never plays a bad game. And of course, our best player all year has been co-Skipper, Jamie Lyon. Definitely his best ever year for the Eagles and such a shame to see him in a team that’s at long odds to get anywhere near the Grand Final. He deserves better.
The halves have been solid and though we’re losing Hodkinson, there’s no doubt Kieran Foran will improve with experience. (Joey Johns certainly has a huge opinion of him.) In the forwards, Glenn Stewart’s just about been our best in 2010… right up until he was suspended for an elbow to Braith Anasta’s jaw – (so frustrating!).
Jason King’s had a great season as co-Captain… (he just needs to work on his tackling style too). And a big rap to Shane Rodney – the forward equivalent of Robbo as ‘Mr Consistent’… and to Joe Galuvao who’s been terrific off the bench all year and was great again on Sunday when pulled into the starting line-up. Finally Matt Ballin has had another terrific year… a real shame he made two bad errors on Sunday that ruined real scoring chances.
Of the others, I’m still not sold on Tony Williams as a winger. Yes he’s huge and powerful and an absolute wrecking ball at his best… but he spent the first two-thirds of the season running cross-field… and on Sunday, Josh Morris and Ben Barba literally ran rings around him. Regardless of his big game against the Roosters the week before and the many tries he’s scored out wide this year, for mine he’s just too damn slow to be a winger. I think he’d be huge (in every respect) in our pack next year.
Choc Watmough’s had a disappointing 2010 by his standards. Injury hasn’t helped, but like many of his team mates, he’s just been too inconsistent throughout. He’s done some great things, but in other games he’s been a long way below his best. Brent Kite and George Rose have got better as the year’s progressed but neither have been at their devastating best, while Josh Perry has tried hard in his last season in maroon and white but is probably a year beyond his best. Chris Bailey hasn’t had too many chances to impress and though he scored against the Bulldogs, he also threw that ridiculous pass that ruined yet another scoring chance.
Put simply, the theme for the 2010 Sea Eagles team has been inconsistency… and that’s what’s cost us any chance at a title. The number of games we let slip that we should have won… the number of second half capitulations… the number of errors from a team who’s been to the decider at this time of year twice in the last three years… sadly, it just hasn’t been good enough. At least the Sea Birds (cheer girls) have been in great form all year!
We do however have plenty to look forward to in the new year. The first grade debuts of Will Hopoate, Dean Whare and Jamie Buhrer this year augur well for the future… and Foran is still a rookie. If Dale Cherry-Evans can prove a winner at half, we’ll be in for a much better 2011.
Our Manly columnist Dave Keogh has been a professional writer for some 30 years, contributing to publications as broad as Modern Fishing and Outdoor. He honed a passion writing a regular column – Talking Tennis – for The Manly Daily. With a varied history including work as a music industry publicist, theatrical agent, band manager, poet, editor and tennis coach, he found his niche in advertising, and with loads of awards under his belt, Dave went into business on his own and now runs several very successful businesses, including an online community connecting sport-loving people – www.doubledrummer.com Most importantly, Dave loves sport, and is an avid supporter of The Manly Sea Eagles.