Home Record: 7 wins, 5 losses (Equal 7th)
Away Record: 5 wins, 7 losses (Equal 9th)
Best Winning Streak: 4 (Rounds 3-6) Equal 6th
Longest Losing Streak: 2 (Rounds 1-2, 13-14, 16-18, 25-26) Equal 1st
Players Used: 24
Player of the Year:
Tries Scored: 93 (6th)
Tries Conceded: 88 (Equal 7th)
Lost 28-0 v Dragons to finish eighth
It was a tale of the walking wounded in the end, as Manly’s seemingly bottomless casualty and suspension list finally took its toll.
The Sea Eagles limped into the finals, losing three of their final four regular season games to crawl over the line and book a date with the minor premiers in Week One of the finals.
The Sea Eagles finished the season with their destiny in someone else’s hands, as their Round 26 loss to the Bulldogs meant their finals hopes were down to the fortunes of the Rabbitohs. The Sea Eagles were given a reprieve and a fresh shot at a home semi-final with an unlikely win, but as the northern beaches club made the journey to Kogarah for the deciding game, they were simply unable to do what was needed, finishing on the wrong end of a 28-0 scoreline.
But as disappointingly as the season ended, it won’t all be doom and gloom for the Sea Eagles as they try and dissect their season. For every game that Manly underperformed in, they also put on some of the best football of the season, and you get the sense that their fortune could well have been very different without the unusually high injury toll they were forced to deal with.
Where They Excelled… While their ball-handling in their final game against the Dragons was well below par, Manly finished the season having made the second-fewest errors of any team. The Sea Eagles averaged 10.4 errors per game, marginally behind the Dragons who made only 10 per game.
Josh Perry and Shane Rodney were Manly’s most disciplined with the ball, making only two and four errors respectively all season.
The Sea Eagles finished the season second for most completed sets, averaging 29 per game. Again, only the Dragons were more disciplined with the ball, averaging 30.
Where They Struggled… It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot, but consistency really was the downfall of the Sea Eagles. A four-game winning streak was the most the side could string together, seemingly unable to capitalise well enough when momentum was swinging their way.
Aside from their four consecutive wins (Rounds 3-6 inclusively), the Sea Eagles only managed back-to-back victories twice (Rounds 8-9, 19-20). Manly recorded only five wins from their last 15 games of the season, and much of that came down to their inability to capitalise on the momentum of a win and, equally, to stop the negative momentum of a loss before it turned into two.
In a competition where momentum proved everything, e.g. the Raiders’ late charge, the Sea Eagles inconsistency severely hampered their season.
Missing In Action… The Sea Eagles were decimated by injuries, but it wasn’t just at the end of the season that they were down on men. Brett Stewart went down in Round 1 with a knee injury and was out for the rest of the year, while David Williams’ shoulder troubles meant he didn’t feature at all. Shane Rodney, one of Manly’s most consistent players in 2010, was another to have his season cruelly cut short with a knee injury.
As the final game of the season arrived, the Sea Eagles finished the year with the following players either missing or under an injury cloud: Anthony Watmough, Jamie Lyon, Matt Ballin, Kieran Foran, Joe Galuvao, Brent Kite, and Ben Farrar – not to mention Jason King, Steve Matai, and Glenn Stewart, who were all suspended for the all-important finals game.
Turning Point… The injury to Brett Stewart really did give the Sea Eagles a challenge from the beginning. Ben Farrar was an impressive fill-in and surprised many with his form this year, but the absence of the side’s most dangerous tryscorer was devastating for the club and fans.
Manly’s backline lacked a spark throughout the season – and there’s no doubting that Stewart was it. Those sweeping moves down the left-hand edge just didn’t have the same impact without him.
Best Games… Although it was the Dragons who dangled the Sword of Damocles over the Sea Eagles’ title hopes, it was against the Dragons when Manly put on their best show, winning 24-6 in Round 9 at Brookvale Oval. St George Illawarra was expected to be too strong for Des Hasler’s men, but a Tony Williams hat-trick, a Jamie Lyon master class and a superb performance by Jason King blew the Dragons away as the side recorded one of their more memorable wins in recent history.
Worst Games… The losses in Rounds 1 and 2 were perfect examples of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
After leading 20-4 at half-time against the Tigers, Manly let in four second-half tries to lose 26-22. The following week, Manly led the Eels 20-0 with only 28 minutes to go before losing 24-20. That game was marred by an obvious forward pass that led to one of Parramatta’s tries, but Manly only had themselves to blame after being unable to close out a 20-point lead.
Hold Your Head High… Despite the disappointing season for the team, there were many impressive individual performances. Co-captains King and Lyon were both in top form; King averaged 106 metres per game, while Lyon finished with 11 tries and 11 try assists – a superb effort for a centre.
Tony Williams was the club’s leading tryscorer with 16, while the form of young halves Foran and Trent Hodkinson was also a positive. Both gained selection in representative teams, adding to the debut of King and Ballin for State of Origin.
Assistant Coach Geoff Toovey says… “The best way to sum up the season is inconsistent. We put some good games together, then we were up and down – we were up and down all year. We lacked some consistency in our games week to week, and that’s a key thing that we have to improve on for next year.”
Conclusion… After establishing themselves as one of the best sides in recent years, there were high expectations on the Sea Eagles to finish in the top four and be pushing for the title.
The injuries will be the scapegoat for their underwhelming year, but Des Hasler will know that his side needs to improve in more than a few areas if they are to return to the heady days of 2008.