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Manly's season can be categorised into two distinct eras – the BT (Before Tom) and AT (After Tom) days.

Back in the old BT era, Manly were a directionless rabble, bereft of confidence, leaking huge points on a weekly basis, struggling to score any of their own and anchored in last place on the ladder.

The AT era started with a bang, thumping the Titans 36-0 and Wests Tigers 40-6 on their way to a stunning surge into the top four.

But as much as it's easy to dismiss the Sea Eagles as a one-man team, the AT era coincided with plenty of other positives.

Josh Schuster and Haumole Olakau'atu blossomed into a potent edge forward pairing, Lachlan Croker found his feet as an NRL-calibre hooker, Dylan Walker flourished in a new bench lock role and wing duo Reuben Garrick and Jason Saab sizzled on the flanks.

Regular season win/loss record

Manly were mired to the foot of the ladder behind even the winless Bulldogs and Cowboys for the first four rounds but a scrappy win over the Warriors in round five followed by a form surge sparked by Tom Trbojevic's round six return put them on a steady rise into the top eight by round 10 and finally into the top four in round 24.

They played just five matches at their 4 Pines Park home, winning two. They won seven of eight regular-season games once the competition shifted to Queensland.

Run metres differential

Pretty good numbers here for the Sea Eagles, although still a tick behind the powerhouses of the competition both in terms of making and conceding metres.

'Tommy Turbo' (221 metres per match) was easily the club leader when it came to yardage while fellow back-three stars Garrick (157) and Saab (118) were in the club's best five.

Marty Taupau (157) was easily the best of the forwards and probably needed a bit more help in the middle at times, with Josh Aloiai (135) the only other forward to average better than 120 metres per game.

Try scoring - game time

Manly were fairly consistent when it came to finding the try-line, figuring in the best four teams in the comp for scoring tries in each of the four quarters of games.

They were still better in the second half than the first, proving the best team in the comp at scoring tries in the 20 minutes after half time and second best over the final quarter.

Tries conceded - game time

Defensively Manly weren't quite as sound though they were still in the top eight for defence in all four quarters. Like their attack, the 20 minutes after half time was where they really dominated.

Their try differential by quarter reads +3, +5, +28, +9, which really highlights how much damage they did on the scoreboard in that 20 minute period after half time on a weekly basis.

Tries scored/conceded from six-agains

The Sea Eagles were the single best team in the NRL in 2021 when it came to punishing opponents for giving away a fresh set, whether that was for a 10-metre infringement (10 tries) or a ruck infringement (12 tries).

Conversely they weren't great at defending those same six-against, letting in five after a 10-metre restart and 14 from ruck infringements to figure just 12th best defensively at holding out after a six-again.

Metres gained from offloads

Despite their free-flowing attack regularly lighting up in 2021 with Taupau a noted second-phase generator, Manly weren't a prolific offloading side and Taupau wasn't even their main man.

Their 225 offloads was the ninth-most through the regular season and their metres added per match from offloads was 11th best at 65 metres per game, hinting their offloading wasn't overly effective when they did use it.

Daly Cherry-Evans (36 offloads for 179 metres gained) threw the most in 2021 while Morgan Harper (24 offloads for 312 metres) added the most value. Taupau (32 offloads for 260 metres) was second on both counts.

Goal-kicking accuracy

Garrick hardly missed a minute all year and slotted a whopping 110 goals (from 136 attempts) through the home-and-away season which, when added to his 21 tries, returned him the record for the most points ever scored by one player in a regular season.

DCE was required to take just two shots, getting one, but Garrick's efforts ensured the side finished with the fifth-best strike rate off the tee for the year.

Players used

Manly were one of the most stable sides throughout 2021, using fewer players than any club other than the Sharks. Their three debutants was also lower than any club bar the Sharks (two).

There was a back-row crisis at the start of the year, with Andrew Davey ruled out for the season in the opening minutes of the campaign and Olakau'atu's early-season elbow injury ruling him out medium-term. Obviously Turbo missed the first five rounds and was managed through Origin but other than that major disruptions were few and far between.

Back three attack

Manly became the first side in history to have three separate players score 20-plus tries in the same season with Trbojevic (25), Saab (23) and Garrick (21) absolutely lighting up.

Overall their 72 tries from the back three was five clear of the next-best Rabbitohs and it was a similar story with line breaks, making 87 which was five clear of the 82 from Souths.

For try-assists from the back three their 35 was three clear of second-best Melbourne and their 43 line-break assists were a huge 11 clear of Melbourne's 32. Again showing that chancing your hand can often be a better option than holding the ball, their back-three error count of 101 was also easily an NRL high, seven clear of the Cowboys' 94.

In opposition territory

Perhaps it was a function of how many long-range tries they scored or how quickly they got over the stripe once they found themselves in attacking range, but a quirky number to emerge from Manly's 2021 campaign was their struggles to spend time in opposition territory. Only the battling Broncos (45.8%) and Bulldogs (47.2%) averaged less time spent in opposition territory than Manly.

Their 21 tries scored from outside 50 was second only to Melbourne's 23, and their strike rate of one try per 7.9 play-the-balls inside the opposition 20 trailed just Melbourne (7.1) and Souths (7.5).