As the old rugby league saying goes, ‘defence wins games’ and for the Manly Sea Eagles, it rings true, as their defensive fortitude shone through in a tough, grinding affair against the Sydney Roosters overnight.
Moving to 3 wins and 1 loss after last night’s victory, Manly’s defence was impenetrable as they held the Roosters scoreless for the first time since early 2012.
With the two grand finalists of 2013 facing off, it was the same gritty and dogged affair that you come to expect from the two sides and last night was no exception, as both teams went back and forth to try and penetrate the other, with the only try coming off a nice play down the left hand side for Manly.
The loss leaves the Roosters in the middle of the pack with 2 wins and 2 losses and although they are still a premiership force, there is work for them to do if they are to surge towards the competition lead.
The gritty side of Manly was there for all to see as they were down to 16 men at one stage after Glenn Stewart went off due to concussion and it was that mental fortitude and grit that most pleased coach Geoff Toovey.
â€œIt does [show a lot about our character] but you donâ€™t want to rely on that every week, itâ€™ll wear you down eventually,â€ said Toovey.
â€œLosing Glenn so early in the match, when youâ€™re down to three replacements is always difficult, but thatâ€™s what makes it so pleasing â€“ the result, and the effort the players put in.â€
Toovey was more than willing to give praise to his team for the way they played and for shutting out the Roosters.
â€œI thought physically our forwards did a fantastic job, they really worked hard.
â€œThey defended soundly for each other. They were very effective. We had a lot of ball in the first half, which helped, but I thought they were great.â€
One player who was sound and valiant in his game was Kieran Foran, who was just about playing on one leg – praising the toughness of the Manly side across the park.
â€œI think the guys that have come in are just doing an enormous job for us. Look at some of our forwards that donâ€™t really get the headlines,” he said.
â€œGuys like Sene-Lefao, Starling, Lui, theyâ€™re just tough.
â€œTheyâ€™re doing a job for us every week and Choccyâ€™s (Anthony Watmough) leading the forward pack and heâ€™s bringing those young guys into that sort of tough environment and theyâ€™re learning from him and Jason King and guys like that.
â€œTheyâ€™re what are winning us games at the moment.â€
As for Robinson, although he knows his side have to improve, there was one aspect of the game that he was disappointed with. The referees.
Conceding a whopping 38 penalties so far this season and receiving just 22, Robinson was far from impressed with the referees after the game.
“It was unacceptable from Ben Cummins,â€ said Robinson.
“I canâ€™t answer why weâ€™re not receiving penalties.”
“This has been the case against the Roosters over decades, so I canâ€™t answer that.”
There was also an insinuation from Robinson about a reason as to why the Roosters concede more penalties, with the Roosters coach claiming that teams deliberately lie down in tackles in an attempt to accrue penalties.
“We donâ€™t play for penalties. We openly talk about it. We say we are not going to lie down, weâ€™re going to stand up and keep fighting.
“Itâ€™s not in the spirit of the game. People are talking about lots of different areas of the game and what they need to police.
“Stop people lying down. We donâ€™t want to have to lie down to get penalties. Itâ€™s not what we do here and weâ€™re proud of that.”
To further complicate matters for the Roosters, representative prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was put on report for a high tackle.
3. Kieran Foran
2. Brenton Lawrence
1. Daly Cherry-Evans