Marlins prop and land scape designer, Mitch Lewis, isn’t practising his trade when he is re-arranging the turf at scrum time!
“It can be pretty exhausting when the boss asks me shovel a tonne of mulch and then I have training in the evening,” explained Mitch. ‘But I guess it keeps you active and fit!”
He won club’s best player in 2014 – his first season at Manly.
“I was born in Manly but lived away from Sydney for many years,” said Mitch. He played rugby for Easts in Canberra for four seasons before moving back to Manly. “I started in second grade but an injury to Jimmy Gentle in the first game meant I was in first grade for the rest of the season.”
In 2015, Mitch mainly played second grade but was called on come finals time and started the last three games. ‘I love the challenge of the higher level game.”
“This season, with all the changes, it has taken a bit of time to get the front row working well,” continued Mitch. “But we are starting to dominate again and hopefully win that good ball for the backs to score.”
By Adam Lucius
What: Shute Shield round 10
Who: Eastern Suburbs v Manly
Where: Woollahra Oval
Result: Easts 24-22
Manly are where on the table: Sixth (32 points)
80 minutes in 80 seconds: We always have tight ones at Woollahra and this one would prove no different. The first 24 minutes were scoreless, given us an indication of what was ahead. Manly finally broke the deadlock via an unconverted try to Junior Palau. Five minutes later Sam Lane put in a well-judged crossfield kick for Richard Hooper to reel in and step his way over. At 12-0 the Lovedale Lager was tasting just that touch sweeter from the Woollahra clubhouse taps. Easts opened the second half with a try but we came again through Lane's left boot to make it 15-5 via a penalty goal. When Dennis Pili-Gaitau came back at the angle to cross next to the posts following a scrum win, the Marlins were on their way to a 22-5 advantage with 20 left. It was the visitors' game to lose from here. Sadly, they did. Benefitting from a couple of dubious decisions, the Beasties crossed for three tries in the final 18 minutes to steal the result. Their last try came with less than two minutes left, the conversion kicked with just 26 seconds left on the clock. Gut wrenching.
Where it was lost: It would be easy to say this one was lost in the final two minutes but that's a touch too simplistic. Manly's problems started with about 20 to go when wrong options and some poor decision making crept in. We got away with it against the Wicks and the Rats, but not this time.
Marlins' best: Dennis Pili-Gaitau, John Barayni, Hayden Stringer
What they said: "We have to get better at closing games out. The good thing about footy is there's always next week and we have to learn from this." – No.8 Junior Palau
"Our game management needs to improve. Now we need to focus on going on a run of results at home." – Assistant coach Dan Brown
Oddspot: It's been a funny old draw this season and now we can get four home games in a row. See you down at the Village Green
Where to from here: It's back to Manly Oval to meet Northern Suburbs in the first of those four consecutive home games
After a huge day last weekend against the ol’foe Warringah Rats with all MMM grade teams winning, its been all about getting re-focused for expected big clashes with the Easts Beasts.
1st Grade is now lying 4th in the table and Easts are 6th, one point behind. Easts lost a close game to Randwick last weekend 34-31. They have had some tight games against the top end teams including a win over Souths. So no push overs.
The MMMs 2nd grade is second to Easts on the table. The top of the table clash will be huge.
“It has been coming together in 2nds and we have slowly been building,” said 2nd grade No7 Mitch Daniel.
Second grade squeezed home against the Rats. It was a tense, low scoring affair. The MMMs got up 6-3 against a side that appeared to have more possession and territory.
“It was a tight game, as they always are,” said Mitch.
“It has been good at training. We are good mates and enjoy our footy,” Mitch continued about preparations for Easts.
Sam Blanchet who has been playing blindside flanker in 2nds is returning to the UK after being concussed against the Rats. Unfortunately his season is over. He has been a good asset for the club making a number of appearances in 1st grade and showed some aggressive, direct running plus being tough in defence. Club stalwart Brad Meaney comes in at No 6.
“The front row has been a bit light but it was good when John Baranyi came on,” continued Mitch. Baranyi makes a start at prop in 2nds this weekend.
Third grade has also been looking strong and are 3rd on the table, one point ahead of Easts. Finally, fourths are 5th on the table and Easts top. All meaningful games across the grades.
Mitch Daniel played junior rugby at the Roos club with many players from his time there now playing grade footy at Manly. He went on to have 4 seasons in Colts before moving through the grades.
“It is great to be with your mates who you have grown up with. The club has a good culture,” open side flanker Mitch said about the Marlins. “There are always changes throughout the season with players getting injured and coming back. Sometimes players may not be happy but it is good that there is the competition for places. It is part of the dynamic.
“Second grade is a fit and mobile team. In the Manly tradition, we love to run the ball,” Mitch commented about the second grade team this year.
Mitch was a key player in second grade Grand Final win in 2014. “It would be good to do that again this season.”
“It was a special team last year,” Mitch said about the first grade team that narrowly lost the Grand Final. Mitch stepped into Kotoni Ale’s shoes after his injury in the Rats game last year and played well through the rest of the season. He is a mobile No7 with no compromise approach to the breakdown.