By Adam Lucius
What: Shute Shield round 14
Who: Manly v Southern Districts
Where: Manly Oval
Result: Manly 16-15
Manly are where on the table: Fifth (47 points)
80 minutes in 80 seconds: With both teams playing their third game in a week, there would have been no surprise if fatigue kicked in early. But instead we were treated to a real 80-minute dogfight – well, 82 minutes to be exact – with plenty of intensity before finally finding a winner. Souths led 9-3 at the break courtesy of three penalties from superboot Rohan Saifoloi. He added another three-pointer early in the second half to take Souths' lead out to nine points. But Manly always manage to produce something special when running towards Sydney Rd (Bruce Stevo's stats may or may not back this up!) and so it was again at the 53rd minute mark. Josh Turner broke clear from 85m out and swerved, ducked, avoided and pushed off defenders on his way to the line. It was some try and gave Manly a way back into the game at 12-8. Souths eased a converted try in front a few minutes later via their fifth penalty but there were still a few chapters left in this story. A pushover try to Manly hooker Vance Elliott from a lineout just after the hour narrowed the gap to two but unfortunately the kick again went wide to leave the visitors ahead 15-13. That's the way it stayed until a late, late twist. With the bell having rung, Manly pounded the Souths line looking for the match winner. They were centimetres from the line but repelled countless times. Then we saw the ref's arm extended for a penalty right in front of the posts. Matt Lucas kicked the goal and the Marlins were home 16-15 in an absolute thriller.
Where it was won: Manly's defence was superb on Tuesday night and they backed that up against the Rebels. That laid the platform for the win, with the Marlins scoring two tries to nil. To keep top four sides Easts and Souths to just one try between them in 160 minutes is a tremendous effort in anyone's language
Marlins' best: Lucas was in everything as was returning second-rower Ed Gower, who punched out 80 quality minutes. Elliott and James Graham were also great value and Josh Turner produced moments of magic.
Lock Ed Gower on the rampage - photo Adam MacDonald
What they said: "Three wins in a week is an awesome result for us. The belief was always there, even at 9-3. We’ve been struggling coming into this week but we'll get a lot out of these wins. Wins like that can make a season. I've loved being back and I will get behind the boys for the rest of the season." – halfback Matt Lucas, who now returns to the Waratahs
"To knock off two quality sides (Easts and Souths) is awesome. If we don't pick up eight points our season could have been over. We're right back in it now." – Damien Cummins
Oddspot: With the crowd going a little quiet in the second half, Turtle reached for the walkie talkie and asked ground announcer Mike Westdorp to rev the Marlins faithful up. Westy turned evangelist for the last 20 minutes and the support helped get the home side across the line
Where to from here: It's out to Nepean to meet the Penrith Emus on Saturday
“I had made arrangements with my brother (Michael) to fly out for the final before the Scotland game (quarter final),” explained Richard. “I have never been so nervous until the ball sailed over for the final penalty!”
Richard flew over to the UK for four days to watch the final. “The atmosphere was amazing with such a rugby mad supporter base in the UK. Obviously the result wasn’t what we wanted but the tournament really put the Wallabies back on the map after a few difficult years. The celebrations were very upbeat and I had great time.”
Richard has played rugby locally since he was 10 and of course his father, Dave, was a Marlins 1st grade player back in the 80’s. He had one season in colts when the Marlins made the semi- final and then got a contract with his brother in the Brumbies academy.
The speedy winger is now approaching his 100th game in his 6th season for the Marlins. “I love playing at Manly Oval with a great bunch of guys. We have always had strong players and depth in the backs. It is good that players have gone on like Reece (Hodge), Alex Northam (Europe) and Mali Hingano (Europe and moving to Japan).”
“I hope I can continue to perform for the club and team,” said Richard.
Not only does he have the speed but also he has an elusive step that sees him either scoring or assisting with tries in most games. His defence is great and nothing depicts it more than this fantastic photo taken by Adam MacDonald on Tuesday evening vs Easts.
“It is fun to play Souths. They play a similar attacking style of footy,” said MMMs winger Richard Hooper.
Souths sit second on the table with 50 points and the MMMs back in 7th on 43. So still a tightly packed top order. They beat the MMMs in Round 1, 23-17, through a strong forwards performance.
This is an important game in the charge to the finals and the third game to be played in 8 days.
“The coaches understand this and we have reduced the workload,” said Richard. “Everyone came through uninjured from the Easts game which is good. Souths are in the same position as us having played on Tuesday night (27-8 win over West Harbour). They are a good team and consistent which is so important through the season, No doubt that they will be in contention in the finals series.”
A small crowd at the Village Green witnessed a fantastic game vs Easts on Tuesday night.
“The first 20 minutes we played well with the ball in hand,” said Richard who scored a brace of tries in that period. “The next 60 minutes was all about defence. We made around 170 tackles and managed to keep them out apart from a try late on.”
It was an awesome display of defence and an area where the MMMs needed to develop having lost a number of close games in the last 10 minutes. “It is about attitude and everyone from 1 to 15 turned up,” explained Richard.
“When we did get the ball we made uncharacteristic mistakes which allowed Easts to keep the pressure on. However, we did manage to frustrate them with our defence and the pressure told with some of their decision making.”
Lock Hayden Stringer had an outstanding game. He was spotted at Circular Quay where he works for Manly Fast Ferries in his Marlins jacket early on Wednesday morning. He explained that he fell asleep on his lounge and only just made the 615am ferry to get to work and didn’t have time to change. Hardly surprising after the effort he put in...and good promotion for the Marlins!
By Adam Lucius
Three home games in seven days – two against genuine top six contenders – always shaped as season-defining for Manly.
And the good news is the Marlins have ticked two from two heading into the toughest of the three.
An impressive 41-17 disposal of tricky Parramatta last Saturday dove-tailed into a gutsy and hard-fought 17-7 triumph over Easts in Tuesday night's deferred round 12 encounter.
Now second-placed Southern Districts at Manly Oval on Saturday stands in the way of a vital trifecta.
"We knew it was going to be a tough week but we set ourselves the challenge of winning all three games and kick-starting a move up the table," coach Damien Cummins said.
"There was a lot to like about the Parramatta game and we lifted again for Easts.
"Now we have to lift again. If we win three games in a week, I will be a very happy coach."
Manly's win over Parramatta was never in doubt after they eased to a 22-5 lead via a sizzling Josh Turner hat-trick.
Tuesday's meeting with the Beasts under the Village Green lights was a different story.
The Marlins skipped out to a handy 17-0 lead after 28 minutes on the back of two Richard Hooper tries – and then defended like their lives depended on it for the next 52 minutes.
Easts almost took out squatters' rights inside the Manly 22 for most of the second half but the Marlins repelled raid after raid.
Take a good look at Adam MacDonald's excellent photo - attached to this story – of Hooper to get a feel for how good Manly were defensively.
The Beasties did breach our line with 10 minutes to go but there was no way the hosts were going to disappointment the diehards who turned out to support them.
Turtle said: "You can tell a lot about a team by the way they defend and that spoke volumes to me.
"Awesome effort. We will need the same level of commitment against Souths."
The Marlins sit seventh on the table but can climb into the top six with victory over the in-form Rebels.
The rescheduled Round 12 games will be at Manly Oval this evening and tomorrow evening.
The Marlins narrowly lost to Easts in Round 10 and will be looking to make amends
1st Grade - 745pm, 14th June
2nd Grade - 615pm, 14th June
3rd grade - 740pm, Wednesday,15th June
4th Grade - 630pm, Wednesday,15th June
Click here for full submission
Solicitors representing the Manly Rugby Union Club have today lodged a comprehensive submission with the Northern Beaches Council outlining its position on the proposed carpark development at Manly Oval. The submission is critical of the development application which they say has misrepresented the arrangements between the former Manly Council and the Club over its relocation to Keirle Park and the prospects of the Club’s return to Manly Oval. The submission criticises the DA for not detailing the full impact of the proposed reduction of the Sydney Road boundary to Manly Oval.
Club Vice President, Anthony Bergelin, who has signed off on the submission has emphasised that the Club has been trying to reach a binding agreement with the Council over its relocation to Keirle Park since June 2011, when the development was first mooted.
He said: “Whilst more recently we have been engaging with the former Council no agreement has been reached or allocation of funds made and we are very concerned, since the Council merger for the future of our club and for the locals, both supporters and players, who use and enjoy the ground.”
Bergelin went on to say:
“The Environmental Impact Statement attached with the DA does not adequately deal with the impact of the reduction in boundary size of the ground. It is a deal breaker for the Marlins because it may prevent the Club from competing in the Shute Shield from Manly Oval.”
The proposal is also critical of the relocation of the Merrett Memorial Gates to a site adjacent to the bike entrance to the carpark.
Bergelin commented: “The historical significance of the Merrett Gates should not be compromised by such an imposing development and the Applicants need to demonstrate that they are sensitive to that significance.”
The MRFC’s submission has recommended a number of conditions that need to be included into the development application before it should be considered.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT ANTHONY BERGELIN 0424 093 968
After the wild and wet weekend the MMMs now have a manic schedule: Two Blues tomorrow, Easts on Tues evening (7.45pm) and Souths next weekend – all games at Manly Oval. Lying 8th on the table these are important games and against strong opposition.
“It is surprising how quickly you can get rusty,” said MMMs coach Damien Cummins. “But we’ve had a good two weeks training and the guys are really upbeat.”
Half back Matt Lucas is back from the Waratahs during the international window and has trained with the team this week. Hooker James Hilterbrand is off in the US with the Eagles for three tests. Vance Elliot comes in at hooker.
The Two Blues have beaten Eastwood and had close losses to Uni and Souths. “They have a new coach and former Wallaby defence coach, John Muggleton, has been helping out. They have the biggest pack in the Shute Shield and will play to their strengths through the scrum and mauls,” said Damien.
On some of the recent losses, Damien commented: “We’ve worked hard on defence and decision making. We have a good leadership group and Matt will also help in getting us organised.”
It is worth remembering that whilst the MMMs beat Parramatta 59-36 in Round 2, those 36 points were let in. The big D will be needed.
Languishing 8th on the table, the Marlin Army is starting to ask what’s happening? The story so far this season has been about having the upper hand only to let teams back in during the last ten or fifteen minutes. Uni, Eastwood, Easts, Norths (40-36 last weekend at Manly Oval) have all taken games off the MMMs when we’ve been in a leading position going into the last quarter.
“It is not panic stations,” said MMMs No 7 and captain, Kotoni Ale. “It is tight on the table with 6, 7 and 8 all on the same points and not far behind the top of the table. We are working hard for wins.
“We have been impacted by injuries and the arrival of new players and so we keep working hard on our combinations and structure.”
Kotoni was dismissive of the pack potentially not being fit enough but did acknowledge that defensive structures have not been good enough when needed most.
“Defence is about attitude and we need the attitude to be right,” explained Kotoni. Holes seem to appear on counter attack from kicks. “Yeah, we need to get the defensive line aligned and improve the link between forwards and backs.”
“We have been guilty of giving away crucial penalties and not using the ball when we’ve been in good positions. The positive though is that we have been playing some good footy. We just need to stop those periods where we seem to switch off,” continued Kotoni. When it works the team looks good, often racking up a good score early on. When this is delivered over the full 80 mins, the MMMs will be up there with the best teams in the comp.
“We took the loss (against Norths) hard both individually and as a team especially as it was a big day for the club with Ladies Day,” said Kotoni.
It looks like it will be stuff it up the jumper conditions with rain and wind predicted. “It will be a forward dominated game in wet weather. It will be tight but we have prepared well and the boys are looking for a big game.”
Easts will no doubt be looking for another four grade sweep from a few weeks ago but look out for the injured Marlin.
“I was quite nervous returning,” said Kotoni Ale, No7 and MMMs captain about coming onto the field off the bench against the Rats after a year rehabilitating from an ankle injury sustained in the same game last season. “Each game I grow in confidence and am picking up the pace.
“I am just enjoying it and forget about the injury when I am stuck in the action.”
Kotoni has also taken on the captaincy again. “I am privileged and honoured to be captaining again. James (Hilterbrand) and Sam (Lane) have done a great job and we have a good leadership group.”
Captain Kotoni taking teh ball up - photo: Adam MacDonald
Kotoni came through St Augustine’s College and started playing grade at Manly in 2011, He is a powerful No 7, tough at the breakdown and in defence.
He keeps himself busy as a PE teacher at St Augustine’s and rugby coach of the Vikings. “It is a combined under 16 team from the Harlequins, Seaforth Raiders and Manly Roos clubs. They train before first grade on Thursday evenings and then play on Sundays,” he explained. “They are going well despite a not so good pre-season.”
“There are some good players and it would be great to see them come up through the Marlins ranks.”
Hopefully we will see some Kotonis coming through the ranks from this rugby nursery!
By Adam Lucius
What: Shute Shield round 11
Who: Manly v Northern Suburbs
Where: Manly Oval
Result: Norths 40-36
Manly are where on the table: Eighth (34 points)
80 minutes in 80 seconds: With Wham's Wake Me Up Before You Go Go blaring from the speakers at a very lively 80s-themed Ladies Day, the Marlins ran out looking to get things back on track. But perhaps distracted by the scenes on the eastern touchline, the hosts could not have started any worse. Norths jumped out to a 14-0 lead just as Huey Lewis & the News slipped into Power of Love. It was left to Sam Lane to hit the DeLorean, showcasing some neat footwork to spear over for over for two tries and tie it up at 14-all.
5/8th Sam Lane went over for two tries - photo: Adam MacDonald
Josh Turner gave us the lead for the first try with a smart try just after the break only for Norths to hit back immediately with a try from the re-start. Anyone got one of those angry face emojis to slip in here? Manly recovered from that to score back-to-back tries and ease away to a 33-21 advantage with 20 left. Norths scored again, we kicked a penalty and...stop us if you've heard this one before. The Marlins fell apart at the business end of the game, conceding two late tries and surrendering a 36-26 lead to go down by four. By now the DJ was playing, appropriately, It's a Mad World by Tears for Fears.
Where it was lost: There are a number of areas you could pinpoint but Manly's defence is nowhere near what it used to - or needs to - be.
Marlins' best: Best to ask Turtle. He didn’t want to talk and we don’t blame him
What they said: "It would have been nice to celebrate it with a win but unfortunately it's not the case. There are a few areas we need to improve on...a few bad decisions, errors, discipline, penalties in critical areas of the field. We need to win a few in a row now to get to the place we want to be." – second-rower Ryan Melrose after his 200th grade game for Manly.
Ryan Melrose on the rampage during his 200th game -photo: Adam MacDonald
Oddspot: When was the last time you saw Manly positioned outside the top six? A long time ago but that's where we currently find the Marlins. Fingers need to be extracted – pronto.
Where to from here: Eastern Suburbs visit Manly Oval on Saturday for what now looms as a must-win game.
Ladies day is one of the highlights at Manly Oval during the Shute Shield season. Tickets are sold out and no doubt it will be a fun afternoon. Remember to get to the player auction in the bowlo afterwards!
Also there will be ladies sevens games after first grade – so an actioned pack afternoon as well.
After losing all four grades last weekend against Easts, the players won’t be thinking of all the frivolity on the side line. Norths will be a tough proposition and have the best defensive record in the comp. The MMMs 1st Grade team is lying 6th on the table and needs to get some winning momentum to ensure all’s good at the pointy end of the season.
“Yeah we were devastated last weekend,” said MMM loose head prop Mitch Lewis. “We just have to pick ourselves up and move on.
“We’ve upped the intensity at training and had some positive sessions. We have to improve the quality of our play.”
A number of injuries have forced changes this weekend. Scott Bradley comes in at no 9 replacing injured Tim Donlan. “He has lots of energy and likes to talk on the field which is good,” said Mitch about Scott, an ex Rat player.
Flanker Harry Bergelin is out which has led to a pack re-shuffle, John Baranyi comes in at prop. “He won four tight heads last weekend and played really well,” added Mitch. Hayden Stringer moves to lock. He is a versatile player and combine well with Ryan Melrose, playing his 200th game for the MMMs. Congratulations!
In other news, MMMs first grade coach, Damien “Turtle” Cummins, has been selected coach of the North Harbour Rays.
“There was no panic after half time when Easts scored a try,” said Mitch about last weekend’s game where the MMMs surrender a big first half lead. “But we gave away some silly penalties. We’ve got to find a way to close out those tight games.
“It is a tough call for the coaches to make in sending replacements on. But everyone does their best and more often than not fresh legs help,” Mitch continued.
Marlins prop and land scape designer, Mitch Lewis, isn’t practising his trade when he is re-arranging the turf at scrum time!
“It can be pretty exhausting when the boss asks me shovel a tonne of mulch and then I have training in the evening,” explained Mitch. ‘But I guess it keeps you active and fit!”
He won club’s best player in 2014 – his first season at Manly.
“I was born in Manly but lived away from Sydney for many years,” said Mitch. He played rugby for Easts in Canberra for four seasons before moving back to Manly. “I started in second grade but an injury to Jimmy Gentle in the first game meant I was in first grade for the rest of the season.”
In 2015, Mitch mainly played second grade but was called on come finals time and started the last three games. ‘I love the challenge of the higher level game.”
“This season, with all the changes, it has taken a bit of time to get the front row working well,” continued Mitch. “But we are starting to dominate again and hopefully win that good ball for the backs to score.”
By Adam Lucius
What: Shute Shield round 10
Who: Eastern Suburbs v Manly
Where: Woollahra Oval
Result: Easts 24-22
Manly are where on the table: Sixth (32 points)
80 minutes in 80 seconds: We always have tight ones at Woollahra and this one would prove no different. The first 24 minutes were scoreless, given us an indication of what was ahead. Manly finally broke the deadlock via an unconverted try to Junior Palau. Five minutes later Sam Lane put in a well-judged crossfield kick for Richard Hooper to reel in and step his way over. At 12-0 the Lovedale Lager was tasting just that touch sweeter from the Woollahra clubhouse taps. Easts opened the second half with a try but we came again through Lane's left boot to make it 15-5 via a penalty goal. When Dennis Pili-Gaitau came back at the angle to cross next to the posts following a scrum win, the Marlins were on their way to a 22-5 advantage with 20 left. It was the visitors' game to lose from here. Sadly, they did. Benefitting from a couple of dubious decisions, the Beasties crossed for three tries in the final 18 minutes to steal the result. Their last try came with less than two minutes left, the conversion kicked with just 26 seconds left on the clock. Gut wrenching.
Where it was lost: It would be easy to say this one was lost in the final two minutes but that's a touch too simplistic. Manly's problems started with about 20 to go when wrong options and some poor decision making crept in. We got away with it against the Wicks and the Rats, but not this time.
Marlins' best: Dennis Pili-Gaitau, John Barayni, Hayden Stringer
What they said: "We have to get better at closing games out. The good thing about footy is there's always next week and we have to learn from this." – No.8 Junior Palau
"Our game management needs to improve. Now we need to focus on going on a run of results at home." – Assistant coach Dan Brown
Oddspot: It's been a funny old draw this season and now we can get four home games in a row. See you down at the Village Green
Where to from here: It's back to Manly Oval to meet Northern Suburbs in the first of those four consecutive home games
After a huge day last weekend against the ol’foe Warringah Rats with all MMM grade teams winning, its been all about getting re-focused for expected big clashes with the Easts Beasts.
1st Grade is now lying 4th in the table and Easts are 6th, one point behind. Easts lost a close game to Randwick last weekend 34-31. They have had some tight games against the top end teams including a win over Souths. So no push overs.
The MMMs 2nd grade is second to Easts on the table. The top of the table clash will be huge.
“It has been coming together in 2nds and we have slowly been building,” said 2nd grade No7 Mitch Daniel.
Second grade squeezed home against the Rats. It was a tense, low scoring affair. The MMMs got up 6-3 against a side that appeared to have more possession and territory.
“It was a tight game, as they always are,” said Mitch.
“It has been good at training. We are good mates and enjoy our footy,” Mitch continued about preparations for Easts.
Sam Blanchet who has been playing blindside flanker in 2nds is returning to the UK after being concussed against the Rats. Unfortunately his season is over. He has been a good asset for the club making a number of appearances in 1st grade and showed some aggressive, direct running plus being tough in defence. Club stalwart Brad Meaney comes in at No 6.
“The front row has been a bit light but it was good when John Baranyi came on,” continued Mitch. Baranyi makes a start at prop in 2nds this weekend.
Third grade has also been looking strong and are 3rd on the table, one point ahead of Easts. Finally, fourths are 5th on the table and Easts top. All meaningful games across the grades.
Mitch Daniel played junior rugby at the Roos club with many players from his time there now playing grade footy at Manly. He went on to have 4 seasons in Colts before moving through the grades.
“It is great to be with your mates who you have grown up with. The club has a good culture,” open side flanker Mitch said about the Marlins. “There are always changes throughout the season with players getting injured and coming back. Sometimes players may not be happy but it is good that there is the competition for places. It is part of the dynamic.
“Second grade is a fit and mobile team. In the Manly tradition, we love to run the ball,” Mitch commented about the second grade team this year.
Mitch was a key player in second grade Grand Final win in 2014. “It would be good to do that again this season.”
“It was a special team last year,” Mitch said about the first grade team that narrowly lost the Grand Final. Mitch stepped into Kotoni Ale’s shoes after his injury in the Rats game last year and played well through the rest of the season. He is a mobile No7 with no compromise approach to the breakdown.