April 15th Parramatta Firsts Grade Verses Manly at Manly Oval

The game was live on 7 two on Saturday and we wanted a win from Parramatta. There was a large contingent of Manly supporters at the game. Manly are undefeated and have beaten Southern Districts and Sydney University in their last two games. Manly are coached by ex- Parra premiership player Brian Melrose. Brian brings a vast amount of experience to the coaching roll and has the Marlins on song.

Manly are running south to Sydney Rd and receive the first penalty for Parra being lazy in defence. Manly elect to take the kick directly in front. Manly 3 after 38 seconds.  Parra kick deep. Parra again display ill-discipline for not rolling away in the ruck. The penalty does not find touch as Parra take the ball forward from halfway. Parra kicks tactically into the north score board corner.  This is much better play from the Two Blues. Manly are able to work the ball away from their line for a Parra lineout on half way.

Manly are strong in the ruck and steal the ball and look to spread the ball wide with quick hands. It is not long before the Manly winger Tom Chester is able to score in the southern beach corner after a good 2 on 1 play. Manly fail to convert. Manly 8, Parra 0 after 5 minutes of play.

The first scrum penalty goes to Parra for Manly wheeling in the scrum. Good work from loose head prop David Lolohea. Manly’s scrum weighs 868 kg to Parra’s 935 kg. Parra penalty from the scrum for Manly not being straight. Parra lineout on Manly’ 30 metres. Parra spread wide to the east. Parra turn the ball over for a Manly scrum on their 22 metre. From the scrum win Manly kick deep and it is cleaned up well by fullback Sam Hayward. Manly spread to the grandstand corner and are able to outpace our backs for nice try in the corner by winger Cam Bailey. The conversion is unsuccessful. Manly 13, Parra 0 after 15 minutes

The kick return witnesses Parra penalised for hands in the ruck. Manly kick to halfway and spread wide from the lineout. Manly are penalised for not rolling away. Parra take it forward through Prop Nigel Vaifale however, loose passing witnesses a turn over. It is 13 to nil at quarter time and Parra haven’t had the ball. We need to put pressure on Manly. We continue giving away the ball. Manly form a rolling maul on our line and centre Dennis Pili Gaitau literally scrambles over the try line to score. Stand in captain Waldo Wessels questions the double movement and a bit of a knock on. I believe the Manly player was held and therefore not allowed to go again.  The referee awards the try unsighted. Where is the touch judge? Manly convert Manly 20, Parra 0 after 23 minutes of play. Manly are looking very slick as we are awarded a scrum penalty. Parra kicks to the western bowling club corner. From the lineout number 8 Tyrone Viiga busts the line and charges up the field. Parra can’t seem to control the ball as Manly make another break down the eastern side line from the Parra turn over. Manly thrive on the counter attack. Manly scrum inside our half. Parra are penalised for not being straight. Manly lineout on the Parra 22. Manly turn the ball over. Parra scrum 7metres out from our line. Manly force a turn over for a Manly scrum on the same spot. Manly have set up with two backs on each side of the scrum. It’s going to be hard to stop. Manly wrap right to the grand stand creating the gap for Manly winger Cam Bailey to score his second try. Great backline play from Manly. Fly half Sam Lane converts from the sideline. Manly 27, Parra 0.

It is all going Manly’s way as Para are penalised. Manly turn the ball over to Prop David Lolehae who streams up the field.  Parra are penalized again and Manly kick to our 22 on the grandstand side. A relieving penalty is given to Parra for Manly not rolling away.  Parra turns the ball over and Manly come down the beach sideline.  Manly are penalised after some fisty cuffs. Parra lineout as we pass right to the beach. Once again we turn the ball over. Manly must have had the ball for 70 % of the time. Talk about completion rates. Boys we can’t win without the ball. The half time bell sounds. Manly 27, Parra 0

Half time summation:  Parra have not held the ball for more than 5 phases of play and we have only completed two phases twice. The errors are killing us. To get Manly on the defensive we need to hold the ball and make them commit to the ruck. We need to be up in their faces. Manly are too good a side to allow them to have the ball. We need some points and that not against us. Para needs to come out with the right attitude. Manly 27, Parra 0. The nil part is not a good look.

Parra are back on the field running south. Parra kick deep to Manly lock Ryan Melrose as Manly probe our extremities. Parra finally get some consistency as we attack down the grandstand sideline. Unfortunately we drop the ball with the line open with some work to do.  Parra continues to look for ways to give the ball back to Manly. Parra at the 8 minute mark of the second half are defending on our line again. Manly put in 5 metres out as the Manly announcer calls a try but it is a Parra scrum.  We turn the ball over as Manly fullback Josh Tuner scores in the scoreboard corner. Manly increase the score to 34 points to nil after converting.

The kick return witnesses fullback Sam Hayward bring the ball back to the Manly 22 linking with half Waldo Wessels who darts through the Manly defence. A great run as a Parra player knocks on for a Manly scrum on their 22 on the grandstand side. Manly take a quick throw and run the ball as Parra moves up too quickly creating a giant overlap. Manly score out wide with Larry Herman’s chasing flanker Harry Bergelin. It was a straight out footrace for the try line. Manly convert.  Manly 41, Parra 0 and lucky to get the nil. Number 8 Tyrone Viiga is replaced by Captain Andrew Cox. Manly are on fire as Manly fullback Josh Turner scores a sensational try with an in and out scoring next to the posts. Great foot work from the number 15.  Manly 48, Parra O. Manly continue to dominate. Parra have held the ball for 7 individual phases in the last 15 minutes and only one for 4 phases.

Parra are penalised again and Manly take the lineout in the scoreboard corner. Manly form a rolling maul to score in the corner. The Marlins are now 51 with the kick to come. This is a very difficult kick. The score keeps going up. Manly 53, Parra 0 with 14 minutes to go. From the kick return Wing Robert Duff nearly scores after a brilliant run through the whole of the Manly team. However, the ball goes to ground as he passes to hooker Aaron Blacklock. Manly kick deep and we are again caught on our try line trying to bring the ball out.  Manly perform the razzle dazzle with a flick pass on our try line. The Manly replacement has been on the filed for 30 seconds. Manly convert Manly 60, Parra 0 with 7 minutes to full time.

The kick return witnesses a Parra scrum 5 metres out next to the posts as half Waldo Wessels unloads to fullback Sam Hayward who is crunched for a Manly scrum. Parra haven’t given up and are able to come up with a relieving kick. Parra lock Michael Ross is down. Parra wins the Manly line out as half Waldo Wessels does a DCK (The dreaded chip kick). Manly run the ball back at us.  Fortunately they don’t score. The full time score Manly 60, Parra 0.

Manly are a good side that are well coached. They are very clinical in their play and use the width of the field very effectively. All the Manly tries were a team effort.  Coach Paul Hardwick talked in the media about Parra needing to start positively and the result will depend on the bounce of the ball. Parra had no luck and didn’t get the rub of the green at any time in the 80minutes of play.

The nil result is the most disappointing aspect. Boys this is about belief systems. We are a bloody good team. We have built up from last year.  I didn’t see anyone out there not trying. We need to make our own luck. We have one of the best forward packs in the competition. We need to keep the ball in hand.  Our phase play is a weakness  and we are susceptible out wide in defence. There is nothing that can’t be fixed. It will be interesting to see whether Manly can keep up this standard. They might well be peeking too early. It’s a pity we didn’t get to play Manly in the trials. We found out where we are at on Saturday the hard way.

I was present when we beat Manly at home 41 – 17 at home in 2013. Not only did we beat Manly we sustained 17 straight penalties against us in row in the second half and still won. We never gave up and never game them room to move. Randwick plays a similar brand of football as Manly. Randwick loves the counter attack. You know Randwick are going to run the ball and move it wide. As an old flanker we need to cut them off at the fly half and send them back into the pack. You need to be in their faces. In every tackle drive them into the ground. If you are on the ground you have an opposition player with you. Make them think of being anywhere else other than being on a football field. It’s controlled physicality.

All it takes is all you have got.

See you at Back to Parramatta Day

Thommo