Adrian moved from Perth to join the Marlins this season. He has had big shoes to fill, both literally and physically, moving into lock where we had Ed Gower and Greg Petersen in preceding seasons.
“I have really enjoyed playing with the Marlins. In games like against Uni you have to step up and the games are fast and physical,” explained Adrian. “Obviously the result is disappointing but I enjoyed the challenge.”
“I really enjoy the club atmosphere. It seems that everyone pulls together across all grades and colts and so it more like one club than I’ve been involved in before,” he continued. “Everyone is proud of the club and the colours. Everyone is dedicated to performing well.”
Adrian was born in Rotorua NZ and then lived in Hamilton where he played his age group rugby with Fraser Tech. He also played for Waikato U20s. He then moved to Perth and played for the Cottesloe club and played in the Force A team a number of times.
“I was looking to move to Sydney and through contacts was introduced to Brian Melrose (Marlins Director of Coaching). I got here before the trial games and was made to feel welcome. I first stayed with the JTrain (club conditioning coach) and am now living with Reben Bijl and his family.” Rueben is a Marlins ex captain and prop.
“Hopefully we can continue to develop and get the wins like against Randwick, and be a contender come the end of the season,”
This is the first encounter between the first grade teams since the Grand Final last season. Both teams have had a patchy start with four wins and two losses a piece. The Woodies have gone down to both Randwick and a Super Rugby contingent free Uni.
“We have been preparing well this week for the game, working on the set piece and defence. We know we have been a bit lighter in the pack this year but we took a lot of positives out the game against Randwick last weekend,” said MMMs coach Damien Cummins.
“These few games will give us a good indication of where we are at. The focus is more on what we can do as a unit,” continues Damien about this week’s final re-match. “We need to stick to it like we did against Randwick for the full 80 minutes.”
No 8, Junior Palau, had a barnstorming game against Randwick picking up the 3 points from the players and coaches vote. He was a handful. The front row also performed well with the return of captain James “Cecil” Hilterbrand at hooker from ‘tahs duty plus props Mitch Lewis and new arrival Hayden Stringer. Check out the Manly Daily story here
“Hayden has added more weight to the pack and did a good job,” commented Damien. Not least of which was the final move of the match against Randwick where he took on two or three tacklers and managed to off load to Chris “Yazza” Yarrington for the winning try!
By Adam Lucius
What: Shute Shield round six
Who: Randwick v Manly
Where: Coogee Oval
Result: Manly 22-20
Manly are where on the table: Third (21 points)
80 minutes in 80 seconds: Can we have more than 80 seconds to discuss this one? President David Begg described it as one of Manly's finest wins of the past five years and who are we to argue (especially if we want another invite to the 1883 Club)? Manly may have been down on troops – 17 across the grades – but they brought plenty of intensity, enthusiasm and an excellent game plan to overcast Coogee. The Marlins were first on the board through Junior Palau, who powered his way over after a number of phases on the Wicks line. Sammy Lane added the extras and we were up 7-0. A Randwick penalty reduced the gap to four before Lane did it all himself, slicing through the defence and scoring under the posts. A commanding 14-3 lead was bridged just before the break when we gifted them a converted try. A Marlins penalty early in the second half made it 17-10 but then came trouble. The Galloping Greens levelled through a soft try and then went 20-17 up with just over a minute left courtesy of a drop goal. The game was gone, surely? Nup. Manly centre Nick Holston pilfered the ball from the kick-off and, a few phases later, prop Hayden Thompson-Stringer steamrolled to the line only to be cut down just short. No problem. He simply offered the ball up to Chris Yarrington and the winger did the rest, touching down for the match clincher before he was swamped by 14 teammates. Excited? Yep, just a little. It’s now five years since Randwick last beat Manly.
Where it was won: You could say the 81st minute but Manly really won this earlier. They were terrific from the get go against a Randwick side that had won five straight. The forward pack was rock solid and the backs slick and enterprising. It would have been an injustice had the Marlins lost.
Marlins' best: Where do we start? The front row of Mitch Lewis, James Hilterbrand and Hayden Thompson-Stringer were outstanding, as was No.8 Junior Palau. Lane was all class and centre Dennis Pili-Gaitau his usual handful
What they said: "Whenever we come here we seem to grow another leg. We let them back in the game but showed a lot of character to pull through. It was great feeling to score the try." – Chris Yarrington
"Excellent. They showed a lot of character and commitment. We'll take a lot away from this." – coach Damien Cummins
Oddspot: Randwick fans gave it to the Manly camp when their side went ahead with less than a minute to go. The looks on their faces was priceless when Yazza scored to snatch the game from right under their noses. It's what makes days like this so special
Where to from here: We meet our grand final nemesis Eastwood at TG Millner Field on Saturday
The Galloping Greens have been the form team in the Shute Shield with 5 wins from 5 including the scalps of Uni, albeit without their Super rugby contingent, and Eastwood.
“They are a young team and have a similar style of play to us,” commented Sam Lane, MMMs 5/8th about Randwick. “Having a lighter team this year has meant that we are playing more with the ball. I think it will be entertaining game.
“We’ve had a good but tough week at training. It included a full 80 minute simulated game on Tuesday evening. We worked on attack and defence, and it is slowly coming together,” continued Sam.
Hayden Stringer gets his first 1st grade run on. He is a big prop over from the Saracens in the UK and available to the MMMs for the season.
“It is good to get some big bodies into the pack. We’ve needed some extra weight as we haven’t been as physically dominant this year so far,” said Sam. “However, it has allowed us to change our style which is exciting.
The MMMs are struggling with injuries – some 17 players out across the grades. As usual this gives a chance for other players to come through. Look for Will Crocker in the second row and Tuni Palau at No 8.
The MMMs romped to a 79-5 win at the Village Green last weekend against Penrith. Whilst unfortunately this may appear to be the norm for Penrith, Sam pointed out that it felt different:
“Full credit to them they kept going the full eighty without dropping off. Fair play to them as well in that they didn’t get nasty and aim to hurt someone as has happened before.” Having ex Wallaby and Brumbies player, Jeremy Paul, at the helm has obviously changed things. It would be great see the club improve and remain an integral part of the Shute Shield experience.
“Ha, yes I had a bit of a twang when I came back from South Africa in 2011 after 7 years away,” said MMM 5/8th Sam Lane referring to a having had bit of a South African accent. “It has all gone now!”
Sam went to high school in Cape Town where his Dad, Tim Lane, was coaching rugby. After school he had two seasons with the Stormers.
When he returned to Australia in 2011, he had a gig at the Reds. Ironically, he had a season ending knee injury in the 3rd minute against his old team the Stormers. A team full of his old mates. He then joined the ‘tahs in 2013 but the knee still wasn’t right. So he joined French team Clermont Auvergne. Oh no, another knee injury.
Undeterred, 2014 saw him back full time at Manly. Sam gradually regained his confidence and was a key player in getting the Marlins into the Grand Final last season.
Sam has been playing some great rugby this year and is really enjoying the club and the game. “I think the style of play suits me and it is good to be able to make quick decisions and have a crack. I enjoy the club rugby experience and the positive energy.” He said he would like to step up again but was pragmatic by saying: “whatever comes, comes.”
By Adam Lucius
What: Shute Shield round five
Who: Manly v Penrith
Where: Manly Oval
Result: Manly 79-5
Manly are where on the table: Fourth (17 points)
80 minutes in 80 seconds: Manly scored before 60 seconds were up, setting the tone for a predictably one-sided contest. Penrith were brave and enthusiastic as per usual, but totally outclassed. By halftime it was 50-0 and the challenge from coach Damien Cummins was to keep the foot on the pedal. They followed Turtle's orders to the letter, scoring 13 tries in all to keep pace with the clock. Wingers Pete Gilmore and Richie Hooper helped themselves to four tries apiece, falling just one try short of creating a new club record for most five-pointers in a game. Even though the opposition wasn't red-hot, Manly put on some lovely tries and their defence was rock solid. But they were left to rue another injury, with fullback Josh Turner suffering a groin injury early on
Where it was won: Let's be honest – and no disrespect to gallant Penrith – but the result was never in doubt. The only question was by how many. Seeing you are asking, it was by 74 points
Marlins' best: There wasn't a bad player but new hooker Sio Tataola impressed. They barely raised a sweat but it's not every day you score four tries so kudos to wingers Gilmore and Hooper
What they said: "It was my first game in 10 years on the wing and I was just fortunate to get on the end of a few. We spoke about putting the foot down at the back-end of games and it was good that we did that." – Gilmore
"It was pretty good, especially defensively. That was a focus point for us. It's all good but we know there are tougher games ahead for us." - Cummins
Oddspot: Penrith coach and former Wallaby Jeremy Paul – and several Manly players – suited up for the Emus to make up the numbers in third and fourth grade
Where to from here: It's the in-form and undefeated Randwick at Coogee on Saturday, beginning a testing fortnight on the road for Manly
By Adam Lucius
What: Shute Shield round four
Who: Manly v Sydney Uni
Where: Manly Oval
Result: Uni 43-29
Manly are where on the table: Sixth on 12 points
80 minutes in 80 seconds: A great win in reserve grade set the scene early as Manly raced in the first try to take the lead a few minutes in. Two Uni penalties eased them to the front 6-5 before BJ Hartmann picked up a loose ball and scooted 50m to score Manly's second. The conversion put the hosts ahead 12-6. Uni came again for their second but a smart piece of lineout work from Dennis Pili-Gaitau set Josh Turner on an unimpeded 60m journey to the line and we had the advantage on the stroke of halftime. Sam Lane's smart chip kick for Junior Palau to score under the posts out Manly further ahead early in the second half and suddenly (with a Lane penalty added) it was 29-18. We were daring to dream in the stands. Uni then took control, bringing Super Rugby players off the bench to over-run the Marlins.
Where it was lost: The Marlins fell away in the last 15 minutes after sticking with – and, at times bettering - Uni for well over an hour. At one stage the home side led by 11, only for injury to hit as the Students continued to roll Super Rugby players off their bench. Manly can rightly feel proud of their effort but it has come at a cost. BJ Hartmann (knee) joins a lengthening crew in the casualty ward
Marlins' best: Hard to pick put an individual because every single one of them had a dig. Prop Mitch Lewis was particularly strong
What they said: "We had our moments where opportunities presented themselves and we didn’t take them. That's Uni strongest team. They had Waratahs coming off the bench but we still took it to them. Our guys were awesome. I can't fault the effort one bit. We were good for 60 but it's just that last 20 when the quality keeps coming at you." – coach Damien Cummins
"I thought we did well. You've got to be proud of the effort we put in but it's showed the areas we need to step up in. There's a lot of work to be done." – fly-half Sam Lane
Where to from here: Penrith make the long haul east to meet Manly at home on Saturday.
Manly Daily 9th April
In a nice piece of sporting synergy, ANTHONY BERGELIN plays his 200th grade game on the same day Manly celebrates its 2000th first grade match. ADAM LUCIUS talked to Bergo on the eve of the twin milestones.
AL: What do you remember of your debut?
Bergo: I honestly can't remember my first grade game but I remember my first game in first grade. It was against Parramatta and we lost at home and I got dropped by Billy Melrose the next week. I was shitty because Billy wasn't there and the game wasn't recorded and I thought I went alright (laughs). I probably never had a good enough kicking game to carve out a career at 10 in the top grade and thus spent most of my grade career in reserve grade.
AL: You've copped it from other coaches, too?
Bergo: (Laughs) Best spray was John Kelly after a reserve grade loss to Gordon. It was all time.
AL: Your late dad Bernie played 330 games for Manly and is a club great. It must be special to move to within 130 games of him?
Bergo: Dad and I are the first father and son duo to have played 200 games for the club. It's something I am proud of and something I'm sure he would also have been proud of. Manly has played such a large part in our family's life.
AL: What are your greatest memories?
Bergo: I have played in some great teams and experienced grand finals on three occasions - second grade off the bench in 2006, third grade in 2012 and last year skippering 4s to their first premiership since 1978.
AL: Most painful memories?
Bergo: Anytime you get hooked and first grade not winning the grand final last year.
AL: Funniest teammate?
Bergo: David Boylan easily. His ambition on the rugby field was to tie an opponent's shoelaces together.
AL: Most enjoyable to play with?
Bergo: Steven Scoles, Chris Yarrington and Andrew Davis
AL: Best Manly players of your era?
Bergo: Peter Hewat, closely followed by Matt Lucas
AL: Best Marlin yarn?
Bergo: The Lee Griffiths Anniversary story when he took too much Viagra, supplied by another player who worked in pharmaceuticals. It's a long story...if you get my drift. Anyway he got married to the woman in that story so it’s not all bad news.
AL: You've tried to retire a few times, so is this year it?
Bergo: It's likely to be my last season. I will let you know in a few months...
By Adam Lucius
Cliffy Palu returns to the scene of his greatest moment in club rugby after being released to play for the Marlins against Sydney Uni at Manly Oval on Saturday.
With the Waratahs having a bye this weekend, Cliffy is one of a host of NSW players turning out in round four of the Shute Shield.
It is the first time Manly and the Wallabies backrower have been back to Manly Oval since last year's epic semi-final win over the Students.
Palu brought the house down with a 50m try that day (see story here) and is rapt to be back in blue at the Village Green.
"Any chance I get to play for Manly, I grab," he said.
"It's where it all started for me. I love pulling on that jersey and playing before a big crowd at the oval."
Coach Damien Cummins is equally pleased.
"It just lifts everyone when a player of his standing returns," Turtle said.
"It's our first home game of the year, Cliffy is back and the scene is set for a big day at the Village Green.
"We'd love to see a big crowd there to support the boys."
Kick-off is 3pm.
By Adam Lucius
What: Shute Shield round three
Who: Gordon v Manly
Where: Chatswood Oval
Result: Manly 45-19
Manly are where on the table: Fifth (11 points)
80 minutes in 80 seconds: The weather was hot and Manly even hotter as they raced in five tries to lead 33-0 at the break. Josh Turner helped himself to a hat-trick, taking his season tally to five in three games. Half Tim Donlan collected a double. The Manly backline looked cohesive and full of speed, while the forwards were completely dominating their Gordon counterparts. Then halftime came...Despite coach Damien Cummins demanding there be no drop off in intensity, that's exactly what happened. Gordon 'won' the second half 19-12 but the five points were never going anywhere but back to the northern beaches.
Where it was won: The first half set it up. Did we not write that last week? The less said about the last 20 minutes the better. The Marlins clocked off but we'll put that down to the heat and hope Turtle isn’t reading
Marlins' best: It was hard to go past winger Josh Turner, but he had plenty of friends. Fullback BJ Hartmann was good in everything he did and Richie Hooper was his usual sharp self. Hooker Vance Elliott, Adrian Hall and Ryan Melrose were the pick of the forwards
What they said: "It would be unreal to double your halftime score but the likelihood is it never really eventuates. The game disintegrated in the last 20 minutes. The attack was good but defensively we were soft. We're not where we need to be there but we're getting there" – Damien Cummins
"We've got a good backline...it's all starting to click. Next week's going to be a good battle. If we don't perform for 80 minutes, we will lose" – Josh Turner
Where to from here: After an eight-month break from the Village Green, it's back to Manly Oval for Sydney University's visit on Saturday.
8 Manly players in the 'tahs vs Rebels line up on Sunday afternoon
As well as MMM captain James "Cecil" Hilterbrand being called up by the 'tahs other Marlins will be there...
'tahs: Michael Hooper and off the bench Matt Lucas and Cliffy Palu
Rebels: Reece Hodge (fullback), Jordy Reid (No 6), Luke Jones (lock) and off the bench Pat Leafa
Click here for Rugby News story
“To be honest we haven’t been talking about Gordon at training this week,” explained MMM centre and fullback Brenden “BJ” Hartmann. “We have been focused on defence after losing shape against Parra last weekend in the second half. We had the best defensive record of any team in the comp last season.
“The pack has also been working hard on the set piece,” he continued. “Every team steps up against our pack after having had such dominant forwards last season. We will continue to improve.”
The backs were electric in attack against Parra last weekend and were expertly conducted by 5/8th Sam Lane. Imposing centre, Peter Gilmore returns at no 12 against Gordon and will provide the straight running from the set piece. BJ returns to his preferred fullback role whilst Josh Turner moves to the wing. If it all clicks, they will prove a handful for Gordon.
Brenden “BJ” Hartmann works for the well known swim wear brand, Budgie Smuggler, and has taken a massive order for new design Marlins Budgies. Expect to see these on the Manly beaches in coming weeks.
BJ came through the Manly Roos nursery, played Marlins Colts and 1st grade rugby since 2013. He had a stint in the Waratahs academy and then the Aussie 7s programme. “Yeah, I went to Samoa for a 7s comp which was a great experience.”
He is an exciting, attacking, running fullback in the MMMs tradition following in the footsteps of predecessors such as Peter Hewat and Adam D’Arcy.
“I love playing rugby for Manly. We had a great vibe last year and it has carried through into this year.”
What: Shute Shield round two
Who: Parramatta v Manly
Where: Granville Park
Result: Manly 59-36
Manly are where on the table: Sixth (six points)
80 minutes in 80 seconds: Marlins coach Damien Cummins identified this as a potential banana skin of a match, knowing a fired-up Parramatta could easily turn a Good Friday bad at Death Valley. The coach didn't have any early concerns as the visitors poured on the points to take the sting out of the Two Blues. Manly piled on six first-half tries to lead 40-8 at the break. Turtle asked for more of the same after the break but unfortunately the instructions got lost in translation. The match became a game of touch as defence took a back seat. Ninety-five points in 80 minutes says it all.
Where it was won: The first half set it up. Manly were very good for the first 40 but can we not mention the second half again?
Marlins' best: Centre Dennis Pili-Gaitau, fullback Josh Turner and winger Richie Hooper all collected doubles while fly half Sam Lane was the stand-out.
What they said: "We were very good in the first half but the second half was ordinary. I said I didn’t want the game to degenerate but that's exactly what happened. We have to be better than that but we'll take the win and move on." – coach Cummins
Where to from here: It's off to Chatswood Oval to meet Gordon (one from two) on Saturday