Home game vs Gordon, 3pm Sat 9th July

This is the last home game of the regular season and so let’s get a big crowd behind the Marlins as they fight to stay in contention for a finals birth. Also be there to support the Girls U14 7s team playing before the 1st grade game.

“We were disappointed with our performance last week,” said first grade assistant coach, Dan Brown. “We want to make it up the supporters and show what we can do.”

Lying 6th on the table, one point below the Rats, one point above Eastwood and two points above Easts, the Marlins need to win the last two games to be assured of a top six finish including a tough gig away against 3rd placed Norths next weekend.

The games that are important for the Marlins this weekend are: Eastwood vs Randwick and the Rats vs Easts. Next week: Easts vs Souths and Randwick vs the Rats.

There is no doubt that the Rats have a hard run home but based on last week’s strong win over the Marlins, they are looking good.

It is a bit gutting to say this the Rats really dominated last weekend and put on a great attacking display winning 41-17 (6 tries to 2) in front of large crowd at Rat Park. They ran everything back at the Marlins with gusto and made some critical line breaks. It seemed that every time the Marlins worked their way into the Rats 22, an error would, under strong defensive pressure from the Rats, send us back up the wrong end.

“At 7 all we looked to be in a good position but the Rats took two chances off our mistakes and scored length of field tries,” said Dan. “Suddenly the game is 17-7 and the momentum has swung against us. They are a good team. There was nothing major that we did wrong but we know we can play better than that.”

Having significantly improved our defence is recent weeks, somehow it unravelled in broken play.

“This week we are putting out a heavier pack,” continued Dan. Cecil Hilterbrand in at hooker, Kotone Ale in at 7 and Adrian Hall back from injury in the 2nd row. It is good to get players back at this critical stage of the season.

“We’ve been focused on us and getting things right. It’s little things that we are working on,” explained Dan. “If we get it right, we will play well and win. But we don’t underestimate anyone in the comp. Look at Wests beating Uni twice. I don’t remember such a tight comp, with any team on the day able to win.”

Final call for the Masquerade Ball and Presentation night – tickets here

Away Game vs the Rats, 3pm, Sat 2nd July, Rat Park

With only 10 points separating the top 8 teams both the Marlins and the Rats need a win to stay in contention for a top 6 finals finish.

It is unusual for it to be so tight and to see last year’s Grand Final winners, Eastwood lying 8th. The Woodies should dispose of Penrith but there are some huge games including Uni vs Easts and Souths vs Randwick (top of the table clash).

After four wins from four, the MMMs are on the up but the Rats will also take confidence from a 41 all draw with Uni last weekend.

“They have good backs that can attack from anywhere and so we must shut down everything they throw at us,” said MMMs 5/8th Sam Lane. The Rats came back to win in the same fixture last year when the MMMs were over 20 points ahead.

Sam will be up against Rodney Iona, an ex Brumbies player, with Hamish Angus, captain and playmaker, out through injury. Former Brumbies player, Julian Huxley, will also be on the Rats bench.

The MMMs have only let three tries in over the last four games with BIG D improving dramatically. Holding out Souths for a 16-15 (no tries to Souths) was a monumental example.

“We are really proud of our defence. We know that we can all tackle well across team individually but we probably didn’t have our structures right,” explained Sam. “Over the last month or so we have gone back to basics. Who should be where, when? And how we work together.

“Basically out attack has been pretty good and we have shown that we can score from anywhere.”

James Graham has been playing open side for the last few games whilst Kotoni Ale has been easing back in after his year out with injury. Kotoni will be a fresh reserve. James “Cecil” Hilterbrand will also be a fresh reserve after returning from a successful trip with the US Eagles. He will supplement a fearsome front row of Hayden Stringer, Vance Elliot and Mitch Lewis.

Cecil was in the run on Eagles team with Greg Peterson that narrowly lost to Italy 20-24. He also made the run on team against Russia winning 25-0 (Greg was injured and did not play).

Other news is that Shuan Treweek, fresh from a stint playing in Scotland, will come in at no 12.

So we are getting the strength and depth back at this important time of the season.

Penrith no pushovers

“It certainly wasn’t a training run,” said Sam Lane. “They have some big players and speedy backs.

“Their defence was difficult to read with some players rushing up unexpectedly,” he continued. “It makes it tricky when you are playing against such an unstructured approach.

However, the MMMs went on for a big 65-0 win. “We scored some well worked tries.”

Reserve back Shaun Treweek got a hat trick and hooker, Vance Elliot, two meat pies!

Marlins make it four in a row now for the Rats

By Adam Lucius

What: Shute Shield round 15

Who: Penrith v Manly

Where: Nepean Rugby Park

Result: Manly 65-0

Manly are where on the table: Fifth (52 points)

80 minutes in 80 seconds: The mission here was simple: rug up, head west, collect five points and return home healthy. No offence to the gallant Emus – who keep turning up week after week with little or no support from head office – but the only uncertainty was over the final scoreline. Manly led 29-0 at halftime and kept the foot down to pile on a further 36 points after the resumption. Mission Accomplished. That's four wins in a row heading into this Saturday's local derby at Rat Park.

Where it was won: The tries were always going to come (11tries in all) but once again Manly's defence was rock solid. They've now conceded just 22 points in the last 240 minutes of rugby. Impressive stuff.

Marlins' best: Back from a stint in Scotland, utility back Shaun Treweek came off the bench to score three tries. Hooker Vance Elliott continued his good form with a double.

What they said: "The Rats game is one we always look forward to and we've been building nicely towards it. It should be a great game between two teams fighting to get in the finals." – assistant Manly coach Dan Brown

Oddspot: After a mid-season hiccup, the Marlins have won four straight to surge back into contention. But this is the tightest Shute Shield we've seen for years. Just eight points separate first from seventh so you can't afford a slip up

Where to from here: Do we really need to tell you? It's the second edition of the local derby for the year – all roads lead to Rat Park on Saturday. Bring it on.