It was an emotionally charged game for obvious reasons, as both the Parramatta Eels and the Cronulla Sharks played in the inaugural Johnny Mannah Cup, a fitting way to remember a player who had a profound impact on players, fans and staff on both clubs.
With so much on the line and both sides craving a win, it was the Eels who came off on top in a rather ugly contest, winning the game 13-6 and getting their season back on track.
For the Sharks, despite the euphoria caused by the tribute clash for Johnny Mannah, coach Shane Flanagan admits that his side are struggling to deal with all the ASADA speculation and it finally caught up with them.
“I didn’t want to use it as an excuse last week, but I knew it was,” he said.
“… Our boys are a long way off. We’ve got too much stuff going on off the field.
“They’re trying as hard as they can.
“But we all know there’s a massive elephant in the room if you want to call it that.
“We can’t prepare on one session a week with all this stuff going on.
“I’m not throwing up the white flag at all but it’s very, very hard for this group of players with all the stuff that’s going on.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous to tell you the truth. I’m sick of it.”
One thing Flanagan does not know, is what the final outcome will be but he knows it will affect his players.
“We’re just not getting the work done because of distractions … too many distractions,” he said.
“They’re doing a really good job dealing with it.
“They’re young men. I feel really sorry for them. I’m trying to help them.
“But it’s this unknown and as I said it’s a terrible position to be in but I’ve just got to lead us out of it.”
With Todd Carney out, the Sharks lacked someone to steer the ship, as the Eels showed they can win games with their defence, an aspect of their game that coach Ricky Stuart was pleased with.
“To be quite honest, we had an outstanding preparation leading into the Roosters and we were shithouse (on Friday) at training,” Stuart said.
On their performance itself, Stuart was pleased that his side played as a team and not as individuals.
“Everyone was pretty courageous tonight. Not just the effort but the way we handled the week bouncing back from last week,” said Stuart.
“We played good footy from a team point of view, and that only comes from individuals. We’re not the type of football team where we can have one or two players below par, everyone has to be on their game.”
The game carried additional emotion for Tim Mannah, who lost his brother and friend – but he said that winning the John Mannah Cup made it even more emotional.
I think I’m more grateful or both clubs in what they’ve done for Johnny, but it was a special night. I say that from a club persepective too,” siad Mannah.
“I’d also like to than all the Parra fans who showed up and made it a special day.”
3. Tim Mannah
2. Kelepi Tanginoa
1. Michael Gordon