Manly goes down swinging against Students

By Adam Lucius

Courageous. Committed. Outstanding

Manly were all of the above and more but it still wasn't enough to stop the Sydney University juggernaut rolling on to a seventh straight grand final, the Students ending the Marlins' title dreams with a 31-16 win in Sunday's elimination semi-final.

On a warm spring day at TG Millner Field, Uni jumped out to a 14-0 lead after as many minutes before Manly reeled them in to go to the sheds behind 14-13 after a Kotoni Ale try and eight points from Willie Ripia's left boot.

The Marlins were always chasing the scoreboard in the second half, trailing 21-13 before Ripia pulled it back by three points with a penalty on the hour.

That set the scene for a fantastic finish.

But despite throwing everything at the Students - and with the big Marlins Army roaring them home - Manly just could not pull back the deficit.

Uni piled on late points to clear out to a 15-point win but they will be relieved to see the back of the red and blues.

"We worked hard, the effort was there but Uni was just a bit too good on the day," prop Eddie Aholelei said.

"It's disappointing to get this close and not make it but we will live to fight another day.

"The future looks pretty good. There are a lot of good young players coming through."

No.8 Tevita Metuisela added: "I think Uni fear us the most out of all the clubs because of our physicality and the effort from our guys was fantastic.

"The two early tries cost us a fair bit and it was disappointing for them to score two mauling tries.

"But we recovered from that and had our chances but they played better at the end.

"I am looking forward to next year and hopefully we can go a step further."

Coach Tim Lane was rightly proud of his team's effort.

"We weren't that far away. If we'd taken two or three opportunities down the right side in both halves it could have been a different story," he pointed out.

"But they are a strong side, particularly at the set piece, and that was the difference in the end.

"We created a lot. We were very competitive but I suppose their experience told in the end.

"The scoreline at the end didn't flatter us. It certainly didn't reflect the effort and the tightness of it."

There was some gold among the dust, with Aholelei, Cadeyrn Neville (both Rebels), Metuisela (NSW) and Ben Seymour (Western Force) all eying Super Rugby contracts next year.

And hooker Anthony Hegarty, who turned in an unbelievable performance against Uni, may have won himself a new deal with the Queensland Reds.

The good news didn't end there, with Lane confirming he was likely to have another year at the Manly helm.

"I will be here as it stands. There are a few things happening (elsewhere) but nothing concrete," he said.

"I have enjoyed it. It's been a great year with a good bunch of blokes.

"We weren't good enough but we weren't too far.

"We're close to the mark and we're getting closer."

2011 AGM

The 2011 AGM will be held on Monday 21st of November, 7pm, at Manly Bowling Club.

Marlins in seventh heaven

THE Manly Marlins have started the season in rousing fashion and boosted their coffers at the same time by winning the annual Crescent Head Sevens tournament at the weekend.

In a thrilling final, the Marlins scored on the bell in extra time to beat Parramatta 29-24 - thanks to a sensational solo try by promising young colt and player of the tournament Sam Brisby.

And they did it with six men after Harry Bergelin was sent off in controversial circumstances for querying a referee’s decision.

The $5000 prizemoney will go towards the club’s US tour at the end of the year. The win was a great lead-up to the Kiama Sevens this Saturday, where Manly go in as defending champions.

The winning squad was Anthony Bergelin, Harry Bergelin, Ryan Melrose, Jack Brisby, Sam Brisby, Jacob Woodhouse, Dane Maraki, Anthony Calavassy, Sione Ala, Corey Murphy, Richard Hooper and Adam Crerar.