By Adam Lucius
What: Shute Shield round 1
Who: Southern Districts v Manly
Where: Forshaw Rugby Park
Result: Manly 35-17
Manly are where on the table: Fourth (5 points)
80 minutes in 80 seconds: After a 259-day/eight and a half month wait, the men in blue were finally back in action. The first scoreless 25 minutes gave no real indication of the points to come as both teams felt each other out. Souths were the first to score 15 minutes before the break, taking advantage of Manly being down to 14 men with Kotoni Ale binned. But just two minutes later – with Ale back in action – Manly grabbed the lead via a converted penalty try. The Marlins weren't to be headed from there. Two tries in three minutes early in the second half – Dennis Pili-Gaitau grabbing one and Sam Lane the other - helped the visitors out to a 21-5 lead. Souths hit back with a try on 67 minutes but a late Tommy Chesters double saw them off and earned the Marlins a bonus point into the bargain.
Where it was won: We all know games go for 80 minutes but this one was arguably won and lost in the first 20. Manly was being hammered 9-1 in the penalties and had Ale in the bin during the first quarter of the match but only conceded the one try. It was a monumental defensive performance. Sam Lane's 5/5 with the boot was also critical.
Marlins' best: Sam Lane, Adrian Hall, Sio Tatola
What they said: "We competed well for the full 80 minutes and won the moments that mattered. There's a fair bit of room for improvement but it's a hard place to win, so to come away with five points is very pleasing." – Manly coach Brian 'Billy' Melrose
Where to from here: It's perennial powerhouse Sydney Uni at Manly Oval on Saturday