Taione wins debut spot for Waratahs

The Manly Daily

By Jon Geddes

MANLY Marlins hooker Elvis Taione says being dropped to reserve grade was the wake-up call he needed as he prepares to make his shock debut for the Waratahs on Friday night.

The 27-year-old forward flew to Auckland with the NSW squad on Tuesday night ahead of the sudden death Super 15 Rugby qualifier against the Blues after being plucked out of reserve grade.

It will be the biggest challenge of his career in a game with a mountain of pressure on the Waratahs where a defeat means the end of their season.

Losing his spot in the Manly top grade a few weeks ago, just made the security guard at Warringah Mall more determined to fight his way back again.

“You just have to put your head down and keep going hard,” Taione said.

“That is footy, you have your ups and down.

“You can’t afford to relax, you have to put in your “a” game week in and week out.

“I just learnt to play to my potential and instead of waiting for it to come I will go and get it.”

Taione has won a spot on the Waratahs’ bench following the loss of the dynamic Tatafu Polota-Nau due to a knee injury. “I got a text on Sunday to come and train and then found out on Monday afternoon I am definitely going,” he said.

“It was a bit of a shock to get the call up but it’s been good so far.”

And he is unfazed about the prospect of running around in the lower grades last weekend to scrummaging against All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu on Friday.

“If I get the opportunity I won’t let anyone down,” he said.

Waratahs coach Chris Hickey was not concerned that Taione has been playing in second grade.

“Players’ form fluctuate up and down that is just the nature of the game,” Hickey said.

“What we have seen overall last year and the start of this year gave us confidence that he is the sort of player that we need in this situation in Auckland.”

He described Taione as a mature footballer who play tough both in defence and around the edge of the ruck.

“He is physically capable of scrummaging at this level and his lineout throws are pretty good,” Hickey said.

“That is a pretty complete package.

“We are confident in going with Elvis just like we have been with all the other club players we have had to choose this year who have really stepped up and done the job for us.”

Taione has been living in Manly for five years after originally coming from Tonga and then spending four years in Wellington, New Zealand.

Three Colts - Leading Try Scorers

This is an amazing occurrence; three of the Manly Marlins Colts players are leading the Try Scoring competition through the whole of the Sydney Grade Competition.

Alex Northam, Shane Davey and Alex Franklin are joint leaders for most tries in the Sydney Grade Competition with 13 tries a piece. For Alex Northam this feat is even more amazing as Alex has been playing CHS rugby and has not played the last two games.

The whole of colts are having an outstanding year, sitting 2nd on the Colts Club Championship and these three boys are certainly three to watch out for.

Check out the ladder at:


An Ugly Win

By Adam Lucius

As the post-match interviews were being conducted following Manly's lucky 16-14 over Gordon on Saturday, Marlins assistant coach Damien Cummins strolled past and said: "You only need one word to describe that - ugly!"

"Turtle" calls it as he sees it and his assessment on this occasion was spot on.

A penalty goal to fullback Marshall Milroy with 42 seconds left allowed the home side to escape with victory after the Manly Oval faithful had sat through 80 minutes of frustrating rugby.

The lead changed hands several times as Manly kept inviting the eighth-placed Highlanders into the contest with an astonishing 36 turnovers.

One of the top sides would have made them pay dearly.

Milroy took over goalkicking duties after the out-of-form Ben Seymour missed with his first two shots and held his nerve to pilot the match-winning three points through the posts from a comfortable position

"Anything in front is hard because you are expected to get it. I'm just glad it went over," Milroy said.

"It was a scrappy win. We had a game plan but sometimes things don't come off and that was the case today."

Milroy topped the Shute Shield point-scorers' list three years ago at Randwick, scoring more than 200 points.

He is more than happy to take the goalkicking job on fulltime should Seymour wish to relinquish it.

"Ben made it clear at training on Thursday that if he wasn't kicking well then he'd get me to come in for him," Milroy explained.

"He's the No.1 goal-kicker but if he wanted me to come in for him I was happy to do it.

"I've been goalkicking for 10 years so it's second nature to me."

But this game really shouldn't have come down to a last minute penalty goal.

The signs were good early after Manly scored five minutes in through lively winger Chris Yarrington.

Two penalties gave the Highlanders the lead 6-5 before Milroy's first penalty restored the Marlins' advantage on half-time.

The hosts started full of purpose after the break and looked to have struck early when hard-running centre Peter Gilmore powered his way to the line only to drop the ball as he was grounding it.

Milroy did cross in the 50th minute to take Manly out to a 13-6 advantage and you sensed they were about to kick clear.

But it never happened.

Gordon clawed their way back to snatch the lead 14-13 and looked like hanging on for a famous victory until Milroy's 79th minute intervention.

"I didn't fear the worst but it was closer they it needed to be," coach Tim Lane said.

 "Thirty-six turnovers is one every couple of minutes. You can't build anything with that sort of mistake rate.

"Defensively we weren't too bad but our attack needs work.

"There wasn't anything pretty about it.

"We lacked patience. It's very frustrating to watch but we got the four points and move on."

The win leaves Manly in third spot on the table, one game into the second round. 

Lane hopes to welcome back several Super Rugby and Australian under-20 reps for the big local derby against Warringah at Rat Park next Saturday.

Marlins monster Rats' pack

By Adam Lucius


We're not how sure how he fared with the ladies or with the free vodka at the Rat Park bar on Saturday night, but Danny Cipriani's first taste of life as a Warringah player started with a loss as Manly's recent domination in the local derby continued.

The Marlins led from start to finish to record a 32-15 bonus point victory before a big crowd of around 5000 on a glorious day at Pittwater Rugby Park.

Tim Lane's men now sit outright second on the Shute Shield table, 14 points behind runaway leaders Eastwood.

Cipriani showed glimpses of class, producing a couple of clever passes and kicking intelligently.

The former England international's much-maligned defence also stood up to the test despite having plenty of traffic directed his way.

After surviving a post-match photo shoot with a starstruck Bronwyn Bishop, Cipriani said of Manly: "The fly-half (Ben Seymour) played well, the centres ran strongly and the forwards were very good.

"They are a very strong team. They gelled really well."

As for the local derby, he said: "I was told a lot about it before the game. There's obviously always rivalry when Warringah plays Manly.

"I could hear the crowd - there was a lot of support for Manly - but I really enjoyed the whole day.

"We didn't win but it was a good hitout."

Manly looked up for this one right from the outset, Tevita Metusiela scoring the first of his three tries 13 minutes in courtesy of Seymour's lovely delayed pass.

Breakaway Kotoni Ale doubled the advantage midway through the half following sustained Manly pressure before Josh Holmes pulled one back for the Rats.

Metuisela's double helped the Marlins to a 21-7 half-time lead and they then braced themselves for the inevitable Warringah resurgence.

The hosts got back to 21-15 at one stage but that was to be as close as they would get as Manly scored again through Metuisela and cleared away to make it two for two over their northern rivals this year.

Metuisela had to go back to his childhood to remember the last time he scored a hat-trick but he modestly rejected the hero tag.        

"It was a team effort. I was just on the spot," the Western Force backrower smiled.

"It was a bit scrappy at times but it was a good win.

"We knew they'd get a bit more ball in the second half and the tide would turn with the referee.

"It's always good to come back and play with Manly and any local derby win is good.

"If we can keep ticking over the wins then we will be looking at a top two finish."

Coach Lane was delighted with the upturn in intensity following the previous week's escape against Gordon.

"It was much better. There was a lot more urgency and focus," he said.

"The first half was awesome and defensively we were very good in the second half.

"We always knew it was going to be a tough afternoon and so it turned out but we are very happy to drive away from here with a win and the bonus point."

Manly had a host of good performers, none better than the indefatigable Metuisela.

Second-rowers Ed Gower and Cadeyrn Neville were excellent value, while flankers Dylan Sigg and Kotoni Ale were also outstanding.

Seymour was in great touch, Andrew Smith made constant inroads at centre in his first club game of the year and Marshall Milroy at fullback made the difficult look easy in another classy display.

Somehow the atmosphere won't quite be the same when Manly travel to Granville Park to take on unpredictable Parramatta next Saturday.

The Two Blues are coming off an incredible 71-40 to Randwick after the score was locked 33-all at half-time.