The Manly Sea Eagles Are The 2011 National Rugby League Premiers

The Manly Sea Eagles are the 2001 National Rugby League Premiers after a dominant display in their Grand Final showdown with the New Zealand Warriors.

I was going for the New Zealand Warriors in this match and they looked pretty good early on. In fact, the first 30 minutes of the match reminded me a lot of their semi final match against the Melbourne Storm.

The Warriors go forward was fantastic and they were dominating field position. Ivan Cleary’s decision to start with a few of his bench players was looking like a master stroke, they were getting the job done and forcing Manly to get through a lot of work.

The commentators kept talking about the Warriors defense out wide but I thought that was a real adjustment by the Warriors that was getting the job done. They were really getting the Sea Eagles outside back off their game and any times Manly did manage to get and overlap, the cover defense came across in numbers and snuffed out any chance of the Sea Eagles finding space.

The match up between Krisnan Inu and Steve Matai was brutal. Both players belted each other throughout the first half and it really was a sign of how things were going early on in the game. The Warriors were getting the best of the brutal forward confrontation, and Manly were going with them, but I didn’t think Manly would be able to keep it up had the Warriors kept with the simple game plan.

Unfortunately for the Warriors, mistake killed them.

Simple errors that relieved pressure or gave Manly field position really cost them. They chanced their hand through the entire game, and some things came off, but a lot of it didn’t. You can’t win a Grand Final on the back of 10 plays fill of incredible, amazing, game breaking play. Manly kept things a lot more simple and were willing to grind the game out. At the end of the day, that is what got them the win.

A few things that stood out in this game for me.

Firstly, the referee’s had pretty much decided to put the whistle away in this one, which is fine, but they didn’t call some penalties that flat out needed to be blown.

A play the ball by Anthony Watmough had no room for interpretation, it had to be penalized. A try in the first half in which an attacking player for Manly stopped a defender from making a tackle was blatant and should have been pulled up straight away. It was a great try by Manly, but it shouldn’t have counted, and it was a massive blow to the Warriors chanced.

George Rose was lucky not to be sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes after coming down in a tackle leading with his elbow, but you know what, its the Grand Final, and while that sound have been a sin binning in any other game, I’ll cop that being sent to the judiciary if everything else in the game is being kept in check.

Glenn Stewart won the Clive Churchill medal and I thought is was well deserved. He had a great game and the weeks off with suspension didn’t effect him too much.

I was really impressed with Dale Cherry-Evans and Shaun Johnson. So think how young these guys are, and how well they are playing, they are really showing why the Under 20’s competition is so great for the game. They look like seasoned professional because basically, they have been in a fully professional environment for years now.

Mataeo made a great impact when he came on and almost dragged the Warriors back into the game. A try assist by Johnson was incredible, he made something out of nothing, but at the end of the day, they made it took difficult for themselves to come back.

Manly have a tough season in which they worked their arses off and never took their eyes off the prize. We might not all like it, but they are well deserved premiers.

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