Hartmann shows plenty in Try Saving Tackles

By Adam Lucius

 

Peter Hewat and Adam D'Arcy were two of the classiest fullbacks to wear the No.15 jersey at Manly over the past decade, but there is a new kid on the block who could go on to rival that pair.   

Mark down the name BJ Hartmann for bigger things after the lithe custodian ensured the Marlins walked away with a hard-fought 23-18 win over Northern Suburbs at Manly Oval on Saturday. 

Hartmann made two try-saving tackles, had a hand in one of Manly's three tries and was as reliable as the round bar's Reschs at the back. 

"That's part of the job," Hartmann said of his try-saving tackles.

"We missed the first up tackles and I was called on and you've just got to make those tackles."

In his first year of grade after graduating straight from the colts ranks, the speedster's outstanding form has forced former Easts fullback Jacob Woodhouse to find a new home at inside centre.

"It's a step up from colts. It's fast but I'm getting used to it," Hartmann said.

"It's good to have that competition (with Woodhouse). We've got a lot of depth at the club this year.

"It's helping all four grades."

Manly played Saturday's match from in front after No 8 Neil Meyer, who another strong game, made a 40m diagonal run to the line.

Former Manly boy Bill Meakes hit back for Norths on 13 minutes to put the visitors up 7-5

The sides exchanged penalty goals before Ed Gower powered his way over after 27 minutes, the Marlins headed for a 15-10 advantage.

Five minutes later the hosts went further ahead with one of the best tries seen at Manly Oval this year.

The ball swept quickly from right to left where Hartmann and Chris Yarrington exchanged passes before sending Woodhouse on his way.

At 20-10 the Marlins enjoyed the biggest advantage of the game...for all of seven minutes.

With 44 seconds of the half remaining, the Shoremen crossed in the corner to reduce the margin to five.

Neither team scored a try in the second half - a penalty goal apiece the only work for the scoreboard attendant - as Manly held on for a win that takes them into second spot.

"It was a closer than you want it to be but Norths were up for it and defended pretty well," Manly coach Tim Lane said.

"Defensively at times we let ourselves down but we also did some good things.

"Our ball control was a lot better that it has been."

Lane said of Hartmann: "BJ has been very solid for us. He offers us a lot in attack and defensively he showed what he can do."

Manly travel to Forshaw Rugby Park next Saturday to take on Southern Districts             

Hartmann has promised further improvement.

"We're not bringing out a perfect performance but we're building each week," he said.

 "We're going to get better; guaranteed."

  

Plenty out But No Excuses

By Adam Lucius

With up to eight first-choice players unavailable, Tim Lane had a ready-made excuse for Saturday's 15-10 loss to Southern Districts on Saturday.

But he refused to reach for it.

As Lane pointed out, the Marlins threw this game away through ill-discipline and a lack of respect for possession - not because they had key players missing.

The visitors had a player sin-binned in each half - No 8 Neil Meyer followed by loosehead prop Dane Maraki - conceded 19 penalties and lost five of six lineout throws at a crucial period of the second half.

The Rebels trailed 10-7 at the break and scored the only points of the second half to claim a dour victory.

Dour but deserved.

"It's a bit tough to get anything going when you are doing the sorts of thing we were guilty of," Lane said.

"It was a poor day out but we still could have won it. They weren't great but we were worse.

"We can point to the number of players we were missing but Souths were in the same boat."

"They deserved to win, we didn't."

Manly fullback BJ Hartmann scored his side's only try after 15 minutes but damaged his ankle in the process.

That necessitated another reshuffle to a backline already bereft of Chris Cottee, Jacob Woodhouse, JP du Plessis, Lui Siale, Robbie Coleman and Brian Sefanaia    

Jono Owen and Greg Peterson were also missing from the forward pack.

"We thought we'd still get away with it but we couldn't get over the line in the second half, even thought we had the wind at our backs" Lane lamented.

"They've got to apply themselves a bit better.

"We've got to get our discipline right for a start."

That improvement needs to come immediately as Manly prepared to meet six-time Shute Shield champions Sydney Uni at Manly Oval on Saturday.

Lane hopes to get Sefanaia, Siale and possibly Coleman back.

The second-placed Marlins (31pts) sit one place ahead of Uni (29) but are now 11 points adrift of runaway competition leaders Eastwood (42).

Saved by the Hand of God

By Adam Lucius

For two long minutes the Manly Oval faithful held its collective breath on Saturday and waited to see whether a few blades of grass were about to deny the Marlins their first win over Sydney Uni in seven years.

Behind 25-19, a possible try to Students prop Sam Talakai right next to the posts went upstairs for appraisal by the third match official.

"Is there any reason I cannot award a try?" asked referee James Leckie ominously.

Those in the 200 Club knew it was close but were adamant it deserved a red light after watching countless replays.

After what seemed an eternity, the reply finally came back: "No try. Held up over the line."

Exhausted Manly players, having repelled Uni for 18 phases right on their line, joined the large pro-Marlins crowd in celebrating a rare success over the six-time champions.

You have to go back to 2004 when a try double to Luke Donnan, now carrying the water for first grade, for Manly's last triumph against the Students.    

If you like your drama in large doses, the Village Green was the only place to be on Saturday.

The hosts looked to have the game in their keeping when Chris Yarrington and Chris Cottee swept in for tries in the early stages of the second half.

But two tries in the final 17 minutes drew Uni back into the contest before they threatened to steal the match after 83 thrilling minutes.

Manly coach Tim Lane feared the worst after the try decision went upstairs.       

"The way it was going at the end, yeah, I thought they might give it," he said.

"We played some good footy but gave them a couple of opportunities to get back in the game.

"But we hung in there. Our goal-line defence was awesome and they were really up for this one.

"It was a good response after the loss to Souths last week."

Cottee typified the sort of determination and commitment so evident in Manly's game, rushing from Sydney Airport to Manly via a cab after catching a flight back from New Zealand following his stint on the Western Force bench.

He came on at half-time and was immediately in the action, backing up Yarrington's break to touch down six minutes later.

That gave Manly a 22-9 advantage and, seemingly, a firm grip on proceedings.

"I'm glad I made it. It all worked out well in the end," Cottee said of his Trains, Planes and Automobiles journey.

"I can't remember the last time we beat Uni      

"Any win over the champs is memorable."

The game stats made for staggering reading: Uni enjoying 54% of possession and spending 21 minutes in Manly's quarter compared to Manly's 10 minutes.

The Marlins had plenty of heroes, but few better than Yarrington, Cadeyrn Neville and debutant Harry Bergelin.

Lui Siale was sharp out wide and provided the hand that prevented Uni from scoring that try after the bell, while fullback Marshall Milroy, fly-half Ben Seymour, big inside centre Peter Gilmore and hooker James Hilterbrand all had some very good movements.

The win keeps Manly in third spot on 36 points, trailing Easts (37) and undefeated Eastwood (47).

The competition takes a breather over the June long weekend before Manly resume against Randwick at Coogee Oval on June 18.

Half Way Through

With 10 rounds gone and the mid-season break behind us, it's time to deliver our report card on the Manly Marlins. Adam Lucius spoke to head coach Tim Lane.

 

AL: How would you sum up the season to date?

TL: We are going along okay at 7 and 3. We probably should have beaten Souths and Easts and made it 9 and 1 but we didn't. They were opportunities lost. We've had players coming in and out of the side and that's been frustrating not having the same team each week. It's been difficult to get that continuity but a lot of clubs could say the same thing.

AL: Are you pretty much where you thought you'd be at this stage?

TL: Like I said, we should have won a couple more but to be there where we are is pretty pleasing given the turnover of players. We have struggled to play a full 80 minutes but that's also understandable given all the chopping and changing. I'd hoped and expected we'd be in the top two or three and that's where we find ourselves.  

AL: And the highlights over the first 10 rounds?

TL: Obviously any time you beat Sydney Uni is special so that is the obvious standout. Wins like that can shape a season. As any Manly fan will tell you, beating Warringah is right up there as well. Our second half against them was very good. But I am hoping - and I am confident - there are even better days ahead.  

AL: Who are the players who have impressed you?

TL: Cotts has been very good for us. BJ Hartmann has shown he has enormous potential. Lui Siale's been very, very strong. Cadeyrn Neville has stood out, Kotoni Ale's been consistent, Eddie Aholelei's been solid, as has Ed Gower. Everyone has put their hand up. Once we get everyone back and develop a rhythm then I think we are going to be a pretty good team.

AL: You've played every club bar Randwick, who do you see as Manly's biggest threats?     

TL: Eastwood are obviously the benchmark at the moment. The day we played them the ground wasn't in great condition and dictated how we played the game. It probably wasn't a great indication of what we can do. We missed a few opportunities there and they had a couple of iffy calls go their way. They are a very good team and have been going along nicely but I don't think they are unbeatable. Obviously they will get a few players back but so will Randwick, Eastern Suburbs, Uni, Southern Districts. The top five teams are going to be pretty strong a few weeks down the track.

AL: And what about Manly in the second half of the season?

TL: We will be stronger too. Just looking at some of the guys due back...Hegarty, Hooper, Coleman, Andrew Smith, Tyrone Smith and Jono Owen. It's going to be a bit of a juggling act fitting them all in but it's a nice problem to have. We'll be keeping a couple of guys fresh each week and that's a great position to be in when you come to the end of a long season. People will have their thoughts about where we should or might finish but it's a bit early for rash predictions. Let's just say we'd be disappointed not to finish up somewhere in that leading pack.  

AL: Finally, how have you found life back in the Shute Shield after a 14-year absence?

TL: It's been very good. Not much has changed. Some of the same old faces are still here. The club is probably stronger as a whole than what it was in '97. We're doing well through all the grades and the colts. The (first grade) colts hadn't beaten Uni in 10 years before last week so that was a great boost for them and the club. It shows we're in great shape for the future. The nucleus of the first grade side is very young so I think the club will be very strong for many, many years. I am really enjoying it and the support we are getting has been fantastic. The boys love playing in front of the locals at Manly Oval and we're hoping they have plenty more to cheer about over the coming weeks and months.