Manly coach Geoff Toovey doesn’t believe he needs to go searching for new ways to try to beat Melbourne on Monday night.
Other teams have had success attacking the Storm out wide in recent weeks. The Warriors went close to beating them using that tactic and then Canberra did beat them that way.
Even in a more intense game when Penrith played Melbourne last weekend, it was still out wide where the Panthers capitalised on a good passing and kicking game in their 12-10 win.
Since the Sea Eagles recorded a monumental, 40-0 win over the Storm in the 2008 grand final, the two teams have played nine times, with the Storm holding a 5-4 record in those head-to-head clashes.
The Storm have won the past two clashes – both last season – and have also won the only two clashes at Monday night’s venue, AAMI Park.
In the most recent clash between the two, the Storm flogged the Sea Eagles 40-12 in a preliminary final at AAMI Park last September. The Sea Eagles were inexplicably bad in that match, bumbling their way out of the competition with a mountain of errors, and have long since given up on trying to figure out why it occurred.
“It was one of the worst performances I’ve seen by Manly since I’ve been on the coaching staff here,” Toovey tells NRL.com. “I reviewed it with the players and everyone else, but no-one can put their finger on what happened. It was one of those performances that comes along and you can’t really explain it. It was just crazy.”
Entering Monday night’s game, the Sea Eagles are coming off another match in which they made too many errors. It was against Sydney Roosters last Monday night, when they lost 16-4.
“Not finding touch from penalties, throwing a silly pass after making a break – that sort of thing,” Toovey said. “Stuff we would normally get right, but which we got wrong because we were guilty of rushing things.
“Our game is about patience, and building up, and trying to take advantage of opportunities that are created by pressure.
“You can’t build up properly if you’re making errors because you’re trying to score in a hurry.”
The Sea Eagles made a lot of mistakes the previous week as well, despite still beating St George Illawarra 24-18.
Asked what he thought about the theory that the best way to try to beat Melbourne was to take them on out wide, and whether he would adopt it, Toovey said he didn’t think it was a case of the Sea Eagles having to change their approach.
Rather, he said, they had to get their established approach right.
“I’ve heard all the talk (about other teams), but I haven’t really focused on that in our preparation,” he said.
“We need to build up through pressure, and try to maintain some continuity.
“We have to control the ball, which we didn’t do against the Roosters. We have to concentrate on getting to the end of our sets if we want to be successful against a quality side like Melbourne.
“That’s where we’ve got to be patient, and wait for the opportunities that will come if we keep working hard.”
The Storm remained unbeaten longer than any other team this season, winning their first seven games.
Coupled with their eight straight wins to finish last season – including a 14-4 grand final victory over Canterbury – they were on a 15-game winning streak.
But the losses to the Raiders and Panthers in the last two rounds had seen them slip to third by the start of Round 10, and a loss to the Sea Eagles could see them further plummet to fourth.
The currently fifth-placed Sea Eagles are on 12 competition points – two behind the Storm – and have a points-for-and-against differential that is just six points inferior to their opponents tonight.
Toovey expects the Storm to have been stung by back-to-back defeats and come out a different team against a Sea Eagles outfit that is among their fiercest rivals.
“It’s probably not the best time to be playing them,” he said. “It’s difficult to play them down there, as well. After two losses they’re going to be looking to put some better form on the board.
“But we’re looking to re-establish our form as well.”
Toovey said there had been good news for the Sea Eagles at training on Sunday, when in-form forward Tom Symonds was cleared to play after missing the game against the Roosters because of injury.
Symonds, who was signed from Sydney Roosters during the off-season, has been a dangerous edge runner this season, scoring three tries in his seven games.