NRL Semi Finals – Week 2, Part 1

Manly vs sharks

I’m so glad we have these two teams fighting out the opportunity to play the Bunnies next week, because otherwise the footage of ‘the most violent Grand Final ever’ would still be gathering dust in some musty archive room (or, these days, gathering bugs on someone’s hard drive).  We wouldn’t have been able to see footage of Cliffy Watson leaning on the goalposts like he was trying to turn a few pre-match tricks, and we wouldn’t have been able to see him in his 2013 form sharing thoughts on how to most effectively maim someone.

Don’t get me wrong, it was an all-time classic final, but I’ve never been a fan of cheap shots and wanton violence unless a Kardashian is involved. While my evil self bathes in the toughness of that game, the new-age angel on my other shoulder finds something a little incongruous about the media  trying to sell one particular game in the history of these two teams as the prototype for this final.

In a way, this touches on yesterday’s blog about being on the same page as the NRL in terms of what it’s trying to achieve. Personally, I’d rather be hearing about the majesty of Manly’s back line, which flows more impressively than a senior citizen on Ford Pills. I want to hear more about their back row, as equally gifted in attack and defence (pardon the pun) as an economist asked to give a forecast. And I just need to hear more in general about Gorgeous George Rose and Brent Kite. Where the the hell is the 2-page profile on each? Where?!

Where is the in-depth expose from ‘deep within the trenches’ of exactly how the Sharks have managed, in some superhuman way, to grind their way to within an inch of a Grand Final playoff (because I think that tonight will be close enough to measure in inches … Or multiples of 7 … or 5). Could it be because the media have made themselves untrustworthy? What about those who profess to be close to them? Hmm, is complaining without solution a better option than a piece the fans would love, and which would serve the game?

I want to hear more about how Beau Ryan was orphaned as a child and taken in and raised by Steve Vizard and Eric Bana, who turned him into a Ricky Martin-looking, football playing comedic genius. Where’s my Tele lift out?

And I want to hear about man mountain Ben Pomeroy’s dark days before round 18 when he still hasn’t learned how to pass. What shape was his mind in? What Rocky-like passing drills was he forced to endure?

Do I ask too much? Oh well, I guess we got Cliffy.

Anyhow, as well as the Sharks have done in the face of the ASADA investigation, I can’t help but feel they will meet their match tonight. Manly will be bruised from last week’s torture test with the Roosters, but is was them doing most of the torturing.

Their forwards, like those in Sharks jerseys, are tough and uncompromising, which should cancel out almost completely. Actually, they have more x-factor in the form of Brenton Lawrence, who can’t pass to save himself, but is the fastest prop I’ve ever seen. Manly’s edge is the duo of left and right edges, capable in defence with Matai in particular always looking to send runners to an early grave, and electrifying in attack on the right where the ventriloquist lets his scything runs do the talking and making the Wolfman look good. ‘Woogie’ (aka Glenn Stewart) will be missing brother and muse ‘Snake’, but is the Ken Done of right side attack – creative and with uncommon flair, but sometimes making you throw the hands up exclaiming “what the f— was that?!”

Without the point-scoring thrust of Todd Carney, who would be a massive liability were he to play given his hammy is in worse shape than those located around Darlinghurst, Manly should have more points in them tonight.

The battle of the beaches will be close. It will be epic and brutal, though not in a 1973 way. But the only winner here is the Rabbitohs. Backing up next Friday for either of these teams will be harder than Chinese maths.

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