|Sharp Eagles get it write with a whiteboard
By Brad Walter - www.smh.com.au, 5 Aug '02
At the conclusion of
yesterday's post-match press conference, Manly coach
Peter Sharp - having allowed his departing assistant
Frank Ponissi to conduct the formal proceedings with
reporters - suddenly had a question from the back of the
"Beaver," he asked Eagles captain Steve
Menzies, "You carried the ball a lot down their end
but what about your end, you didn't seem to carry it too
It was a joke, of course, Menzies having led Manly to an
upset win over Parramatta after a week of questions and
answers between Sharp and his players.
For someone who loathes meetings, Sharp's game plan to
topple the Eels yesterday was virtually devised by
With the Eagles having conceded 76 points in their past
120 minutes of football since leading Cronulla 18-nil at
half-time a fortnight ago, Sharp asked each player last
Tuesday to write down suggestions on how they could
improve their defence.
Then on Thursday afternoon he organised a team meeting in
the media room beneath the main grandstand at Brookvale
Oval to discuss their ideas and the side's overall
"I'm not a great fan of meetings," Sharp said.
"But I just thought that we had to draw a line in
the sand somewhere and make a decision about what we want
to do for the future, not just this year.
"We've played the same sides in the last three
weeks, the Cowboys twice and Cronulla in the middle - the
first game and a half was 12 points and the second game
and a half was 76 points.
"So I just said to them, 'You tell me what is going
on'. I got varied answers, but there were a couple of
themes and then we just threw some things up on the
whiteboard over there.
"We spoke about the Bulldogs, we spoke about
Parramatta and we spoke about the Manly sides of 1995 and
1996, and the guys that were here then put their
two-bobs' worth in."
One of those players was Menzies, and he described
yesterday's performance as one of the Eagles' best of the
season after managing to keep last year's minor premiers
tryless until the 69th minute.
"It was our attitude in defence," Menzies said.
"The technical side had been fine but I just think
it was the attitude and willingness to want to stop
people from crossing your tryline."
The NSW Origin back-rower set up Manly's first try in the
ninth minute with a grubber kick behind the Eels' line
that was pounced on by centre Ben MacDougall just
millimetres before going dead.
It was to be the only scoring action of the first half as
both sides struggled to mount any great attacking
movements, although Parramatta players were twice called
back for forward passes before the teams trooped off for
the interval with the Eagles ahead 6-0.
Worse for the Eels, their most dangerous attacking weapon
- ball-playing forward David Solomona - had limped from
the field two minutes earlier with a knee injury that
prevented him from taking any further part in the game.
A few minutes after the interval, they blew another
scoring opportunity after a forward pass from Brett
Hodgson to Nathan Hindmarsh, then had to look on as
referee Bill Harrigan appeared to miss a Manly knock-on
in the lead-up to Albert Torrens's 51st-minute try. After
Eagles halfback Jason Ferris, making his 100th first
grade appearance, extended the lead to 13-0 with a
68th-minute field goal, only for Parramatta to hit back
two tackles later with a Ben Kusto try, Harrigan said:
"You've got to ask whether they did the field goal
But having talked extensively during the week about the
Bulldogs' comeback from 19-0 down to beat Newcastle after
the bell last Sunday, Manly were determined not to suffer
the same fate as the Knights and responded almost
immediately through a 95m Robert Miles try.
"It sounds like a toss when you read it in the paper
but part of the reason for the meeting we had was that we
need to develop a culture, and there's a lot to like
about Canterbury's, isn't there?" Sharp said.
"That's what we're trying to instil here."
Tries: MacDougall, Torrens, Miles.
Goals: Williamson 3,
Field Goal: Lavea
Parramatta Eels: 10
Tries: Kusto, Hindmarsh. Goals: Hodges 1
Referee: Bill Harrigan