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Agressive Manly Punish Parra
Manly 22 def Parra 12

A physical Manly Sea Eagles side tonight stormed home in the second half to overrun the tiring Parramatta Eels – who surprisingly led 6-2 at half time.

The Eagles were brutal in their approach to the game and ‘rolled the dice’ in relation to the judiciary. Even if the Eagles lose Matai to suspension for a fierce high shot on Ben Smith – the tactics employed by Des Hasler were perfect for the conditions and the opposition.

Matai’s tackle on Ben Smith in the first half was a throw back to the rough days of Rugby League many years ago. A firey swinging arm connecting with Smiths head and breaking his nose instantly; the Parramatta centre’s nose spewing claret out by the bucket-load.

Parra were unable to show the same muscle and could not fire back and ended up passengers in the end as Orford and Monaghan got the space they needed and setup Stewart and co out wide.

Brett Steward was at his speedy best, and was even more impressive considering the tough conditions. Brooky resembled a quagmire and was extremely heavy underfoot.

The confrontation with Jamie Lyon never eventuated. Lyon being sent to pivot with Matai in the side, and while he did score a try off a Parramatta spill – he was rarely seen in attack and spent most of the night tackling. I don’t think Manly will stick with the combo of Orford and Lyon in the halves. Lyon is a good player, but isn’t an out and out pivot.

As Monaghan slipped into second receiver the Eagles stepped up a notch and were able to eclipse Parramatta midfield. Their attack looked much more dangerous and well orchestrated with Monaghan involved; and it’s still a mystery why the Eagles will not give the talented utility they position he wants. The Tigers are pushing very hard behind the scenes to secure Monaghan and keep him from heading to the UK Super League next year. Phil Gould on the channel 9 commentary suggested Monaghan would be of great value to the NSW Origin side as a bench utility man – comments NRL News tend to agree with.

Eric Grothe had an off-night for the Eels, dropping his fair share of ball and taking some poor options. His younger wing partner Jarryd Hayne however may have played himself into Origin after a faultless performance in defence and attack. Regularly defusing Manly bombs and getting yardage on most plays. The Eels still carry a passenger in Brett Finch; while not disgraced – Finch struggles to be a power on a weekly basis and his style of play is hampering that of Tim Smith.

The Eagles now stay atop of the NRL Season 2007 ladder; having lost only the one game. Orford probably didn’t do enough to secure an origin spot but certainly hasn’t thrown his chance away. The Eagles aren’t a team of superstars – but they are a superstar of a team. They play for each other and compliment each other extremely well – and they continue their ascendancy in 2007.


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