Eastwood break more than Manly's heart

By Adam Lucius

The minor premiership might be gone but Manly refuse to concede runaway competition leaders Eastwood are untouchable despite a disappointing 39-24 loss at TG Millner Field on Saturday. 

The Woodies were in control for most of the afternoon, going to the break 16-12 ahead and easing further in front in the second half as the Marlins drowned in a season of penalties and injuries to key players.

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Lui Siale making one of his trade mark breaks

Winger Chris Yarrington's season appears over after he suffered a suspected broken leg, while hooker Elvis Taione (dislocated elbow) and Marshall Milroy (shoulder) were both forced from the field.

Eastwood only scored one more try than Manly - three to two - but five-eighth Pierre Hola's nine from nine with the boot ultimately proved the difference. The Woods are now 18 points clear at the head of the Shute Shield table after 15 rounds and will not be headed, but the second-placed Marlins fancy their chances should they meet again.        

"The minor premiership doesn't matter too much - it's about who wins the one at the end," coach Tim Lane pointed out. "It's as good as I've seen Eastwood play but we helped them a little bit with our lack of discipline. "They are beatable - that's for sure - but we are going to have to work hard to beat them." 

 "They defended very well but we gave them two soft tries. "We showed plenty of intent with the ball and came back well and didn't give up, which is pleasing, especially with the number of injuries we copped." "There is plenty to like about that performance."

Eastwood opened the second half with a converted try and from there on there was never any real doubt over the result. At one stage they led 39-17 and a lesser team than the Marlins may have conceded the half century. But Lane's men refused to wilt and actually finished the stronger, albeit well behind on the scoreboard.

Prop Eddie Aholelei agreed with his coach that the result could be different the next time the Marlins meet the Woodies.  "I feel they are beatable but we are our own worst enemy with penalties and soft defence," he said. "It's stuff that needs to be fixed and it will be. "We'll be there at the back-end of the season. And anything can happen between now and the grand final."

The Marlins host Eastern Suburbs next Saturday before what should be a big crowd at Back to Manly Day.

Washed Out Game has been Rescheduled

By Adam Lucius

 

Manly will take on Eastern Suburbs at Manly Oval on Wednesday night after hastily rescheduling their washed out match game from Saturday.

The match will kick off at 7pm.

Manly Council pulled the plug on the Village Green at 7am Saturday, leaving hordes of rugby tragics wondering what to do to escape being trapped at home with a long list of domestic duties.

There are unfounded rumours some members of the 200 Club turned up anyway and pretended there was a game on just so they could sip a few cold ones (all enquiries on that front to Sean Rout!).

Anyway, we're on again under the brilliant Manly Oval lights on Wednesday .

The Easts game was to be the last appearance for a four to six weeks for prop Eddie Aholelei and second-rowers Cadeyrn Neville and Luke Jones.

All are off for a tour of Europe with the Melbourne Rebels - a great opportunity for the trio but rotten timing for the Marlins.  

"We lose a couple more when Western Force go on tour so our depth will be tested over the next month or so," coach Tim Lane pointed out.

"We would have preferred to have played the game on Saturday when we had those blokes but it wasn't to be.

"Having a catch-up game hanging over us isn't ideal but we'll play it Wednesday and move on from there.

"The boys are looking forward to something a bit different and hopefully we will get a good crowd down to Manly to watch it."                

Elusive centre Robbie Coleman may be back for the Marlins after two months out with a sternum injury, while fullback BJ Hartmann is close to a return after recovering from an ankle problem.

With Sydney Uni winning on the weekend, Manly slipped to third spot on the table.

They share that position with the much-improved Northern Suburbs, who beat Souths 29-26.

The Marlins can regain second place with victory over the Beasties.         

Beasties

By Adam Lucius

After clearing more hurdles than Jana Rawlinson, Manly carved out an invaluable 28-20 win over Eastern Suburbs in Wednesday night's deferred Shute Shield match at Manly Oval.
It was tough, uncompromising rugby on a chilly night at the Village Green but the four points were greeted with more joy than an open bar at the Steyne.
The three tries to two victory sees the Marlins regain second spot on the table in what is a very congested table from two to six.
You have to feel for Shute Shield coaches at the best of times given the lack of support from those above them on rugby's food chain, but this week takes some beating.
Firstly, Tim Lane waved goodbye to Melbourne Rebels trio Eddie Aholelei, Luke Jones and Cadeyrn Neville for an ill-timed tour of Europe.
Then Lane receives a call from the Brumbies informing him that certain players are to be rested from Wednesday night's catch-up fixture so no Andrew Smith or Jono Owen for the Marlins.
And just around the corner we've got a Western Force tour which will steal away Willie Ripia and Tevita Metuisela.       
Unbelievable.
Why this Super rugby franchises can't go on tour in October-November is one of rugby's great unanswered questions.
Why fit and healthy rugby players are constantly wrapped in cotton wool is another question unlikely to receive an answer.
After all that, Lane had to ensure his team was mentally attuned for a midweek game before a smallish but vocal Manly Oval crowd.
"To rule Andrew Smith out for no reason whatsoever...it's becoming a joke," Lane fumed seconds after fulltime on Wednesday night.
"Who knows why they (Smith and Owen) couldn't play.
"They let Michael Hooper play because they ruled Jono Owen out.
"It's like 'here, we will give you this but we're going to take this away'.
"I haven't heard from (Brumbies coach) Jake White. You would expect a bit of common courtesy but nothing."
On the plus side, Manly did get the impressive Hooper back for the Beasties clash and JP du Plessis also returned after his return to South Africa fell through due to contractual problems.
They were two of Manly's best against a fired-up Easts side.    
The Marlins scored the first try on 22 minutes, Ripia's inch-perfect crossfield kick batted back by Lui Siale for Neil Meyer to score.
That allowed Manly to take an 8-3 lead to the break but they were soon on the back foot when the Beasties scored a soft try to take the lead six minutes after the resumption.
Du Plessis helped get the hosts back on track just before the hour, his bumping run getting rid of three defenders before Hooper backed up on the inside to complete a terrific try.
The conversion and a penalty soon after pushed the Marlins out to an 18-10 advantage before the lead was cut by an Easts three-pointer 16 minutes from time.
Manly came again just two minutes later, with Ben Seymour's sublime inside pass to Jacob Woodhouse sending the fullback over.
The Beasties made for a nervous finish with a try eight minutes from the death but Ripia sealed a hard-fought eight-point victory with a penalty after the bell.
"We're pretty happy with that. It was a very good effort," Lane said.
"JP and Hooper were great, 'Tank' (prop Andrew Collins) did well for us as did Siggy and Kotoni Ale when he came on.
"It was a good solid win and an important in the context of the ladder.
"It's not easy playing midweek with limited preparation and a few last minute personnel changes,"
Dylan Sigg added: "It was a valuable win, especially with Easts right behind us on the table.
"It just takes us that little bit further away from them and gives us a bit of a cushion."
"It was good that the crowd turned up because they definitely lifted us.
"We've already lost a few players and will lose some more in coming weeks so we need to keep racking up the wins."
Asked the plan in the lead-up to Saturday's clash with West Harbour at Concord, Lane replied: "Night off Thursday, captain's run Friday and play Saturday and probably have a week off next week.
"We really want to start building something from here."