Manly v Melbourne Storm encounters always have some added heat.
In recent times the genuine football rivalry has been somewhat lost to the game. Outside of State of Origin, the game has few uncontrived club rivalries, some say due to alleged sanitisation of the on field action. The reality is players are becoming closer as a group across all clubs with various representative teams from junior ages onwards.
But one thing needs to be clear when it comes to the Melbourne Storm and the Manly Sea Eagles; these two teams genuinely dislike each other. Partly to do with back-to-back grand final clashes, and probably more than partly to do with the infamous Battle of Brookvale, there is a fire that burns inside of Storm and Sea Eagles players each time they meet.
This Monday night won’t be any different, as the teams clash at AAMI Park, the venue of a great capitulation by the Sea Eagles in last year’s preliminary final. Manly entered that game on the back of a controversial win over the Cowboys, and were looked at as a big shot to knock the Storm out in the penultimate round for the second year running. They never got out of the blocks however, with countless errors gifting Melbourne a path to their second premiership.
As it stands the last time the Sea Eagles did gain a win over Melbourne was the fateful Friday night at Fortress Brookvale. As many as 17 players will back up from that game, including one of the features of that night, Glenn Stewart. There is no doubt that Round 25, 2011 will come up countless times during press conferences and interviews this week, but for the players it is much more than that.
Ever since the 2007 Grand Final when Glenn’s brother Brett was crushed in a tackle by Michael Crocker (legally, it must be said), a fuse was lit. It is purely coincidental that every time these two teams have met in the post-season, the losing team’s season has been ended, but that adds to the drama and spice. The ledger is slightly in favour of the Storm with 13 wins to Manly’s 10, as well as two draws, however the premiership ledger is deadlocked at one apiece.
On Monday night the Storm and the Sea Eagles will play at AAMI Park for two competition points, but for the players and supporters it is so much more than that.
Smooth Move of the Week
The Eels were precariously positioned with a two point lead with only seconds left in the first half against Brisbane. After gaining a penalty inside their own half, Jarryd Hayne launched a monster kick for touch to have them 35m out, then took the tap himself and nailed a field goal as the siren sounded. It gave them an 11-8 half-time lead, and while that didn’t seem much at the time, it proved the difference as they triumphed 19-18.