After watching his Manly side crash to a third consecutive loss at WIN Stadium on Friday night, defiant Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler declared: “We will dig our way out of this, you watch.”
Manly are sitting at the bottom of the ladder after conceding 110 points and scoring just 28 in losses to Sydney Roosters, South Sydney and St George Illawarra, and Hasler must now prepare them to face Penrith next Thursday night.
The Sea Eagles are already enduring their worst start to the season since losing the opening four matches in 2009 – a year that finished with Hasler steering them to fifth place.
While they look a long way from finals contenders after a 38-12 demolition by the Dragons, Hasler is confident that Manly will fight their way back from the bottom.
“We are out of shape at the moment,” Hasler said. “The players aren’t enjoying the losses but I still maintain that there is a lot of effort there.”
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“Everyone is working really hard and I thought we had a dig tonight. They are disappointed but there is quality in this side.”
Asked why he was confident the Sea Eagles would rebound, he said: “Just because of the spirit and the individuals we have at this club.”
Manly finished the match with a 66 per cent completion rate from their 38 sets of possession, but the figure was much worse at halftime.
Yet despite committing 13 errors, the Sea Eagles ran 1654 metres with the ball compared to 1517 by the Dragons.
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“I thought we had the run of the first half but we completed about 45 per cent and that is just not acceptable at this level,” Hasler said.
“I know it sounds like a raw statistic but I think we carried the ball further than St George Illawara did in that first half.
“We were making metres and getting down there in good field position but we were a bit frantic with the ball.
“We were in that game for the first half and we have just got to get better at nailing those parts of the game when we get in that position. It is very difficult to build pressure.”
Hasler admitted the clash with Penrith would be a big test for his side but said there was no temptation to rush star fullback Tom Trbojevic back from a hamstring injury before the following weekend’s match against the Warriors.
“We are going to have to be a lot better and consistently better and stay in the game for longer, we are going to have to be really tidy,” he said of the Panthers match.