By Adam Lucius
Three home games in seven days – two against genuine top six contenders – always shaped as season-defining for Manly.
And the good news is the Marlins have ticked two from two heading into the toughest of the three.
An impressive 41-17 disposal of tricky Parramatta last Saturday dove-tailed into a gutsy and hard-fought 17-7 triumph over Easts in Tuesday night's deferred round 12 encounter.
Now second-placed Southern Districts at Manly Oval on Saturday stands in the way of a vital trifecta.
"We knew it was going to be a tough week but we set ourselves the challenge of winning all three games and kick-starting a move up the table," coach Damien Cummins said.
"There was a lot to like about the Parramatta game and we lifted again for Easts.
"Now we have to lift again. If we win three games in a week, I will be a very happy coach."
Manly's win over Parramatta was never in doubt after they eased to a 22-5 lead via a sizzling Josh Turner hat-trick.
Tuesday's meeting with the Beasts under the Village Green lights was a different story.
The Marlins skipped out to a handy 17-0 lead after 28 minutes on the back of two Richard Hooper tries – and then defended like their lives depended on it for the next 52 minutes.
Easts almost took out squatters' rights inside the Manly 22 for most of the second half but the Marlins repelled raid after raid.
Take a good look at Adam MacDonald's excellent photo - attached to this story – of Hooper to get a feel for how good Manly were defensively.
The Beasties did breach our line with 10 minutes to go but there was no way the hosts were going to disappointment the diehards who turned out to support them.
Turtle said: "You can tell a lot about a team by the way they defend and that spoke volumes to me.
"Awesome effort. We will need the same level of commitment against Souths."
The Marlins sit seventh on the table but can climb into the top six with victory over the in-form Rebels.