purge demons by routing woeful Dragons
Brad Walter - www.smh.com.au
14 April 2003
After watching Manly respond to a week of turmoil with
an emotion-charged win over St George Illawarra at WIN
Stadium yesterday, Dragons coach Nathan Brown shook hands
with his Sea Eagles counterpart Peter Sharp and said:
"Congratulations, I'm the new you."
While it is unlikely that there will be anyone calling
for Brown's head just four games into the Dragons' top
job, almost everything else about the match was a mirror
image of Manly's thrashing by Wests Tigers last Sunday,
even the scoreline was identical.
The Sea Eagles' 38-12 loss to the Tigers was derided as
one of the former glamour club's most hapless.
With St George and Illawarra merging only in 1999,
Brown's suggestion that yesterday's loss was the worst in
the joint venture's history was just as credible.
"Manly came here to be beaten today, they didn't
come here as a real confident footy side but we helped
them to get their confidence back," Brown said.
"If Manly had played to their potential today they
would have put us away a lot earlier than they did, but
they were playing with no confidence."
Yet even as Dragons hooker Mark Riddell was lining up the
conversion attempt of Matt Cooper's 54th-minute try to
level the scores at 12-12, it was clear the home side was
struggling to match the Sea Eagles in passion.
Every time they forced an error in the second half, the
Manly players would come together in a huddle and
back-slap, high five or hug each other.
Brown, frustrated that his message to keep play simple
and be patient was being ignored, ran down a maze of
stairs and walkways from the coach's box to the sideline.
Calling skipper Trent Barrett, forward leader Lance
Thompson and playmaker Brent Firman over while Riddell
landed the goal, the 29-year-old coach gestured wildly as
he remonstrated with the trio and struck Barrett in the
Then as Thompson went to walk away, he jerked him back by
the jersey - drawing applause from the 13,150-strong
crowd after a mistake-ridden performance by the
"I shouldn't have tapped Baz [Barrett]," Brown
said. "It wasn't part of the plan, it just happened.
That's probably a bit of my inexperience, but we all live
"We got in a situation to win that game and I
suppose whether you call it panic, we just didn't have
anyone to say a basic play will get us out of trouble.
"Under pressure we just came up with poor options,
we didn't play with any control. That was me showing that
I was probably a bit poor under pressure, too. I probably
can't expect them to be good under pressure if I was
going to be a bit silly, too."
From then on, things only worsened for the Dragons. First
Ben Walker scored, then, when halfback Jason Ferris
swooped on a Chad Randall grubber kick in the 68th minute
to put Manly ahead 22-12, the visitors reacted as though
they'd just won a grand final.
Walker's second try only two minutes later ended with
almost the entire team piling on top of him under the
goal posts. When winger John Hopoate ran 80 metres to
score from an intercept on full-time, even Sharp got in
on the fist-pumping act near the players' tunnel.
"We played like statutes last week and didn't look
like we were enjoying our footy," Sharp said.
"We were, but we just needed to show it because it's
an emotional game.
"It's been a very emotional week for everybody in
the club, so to get our nose through the other side of it
is very, very pleasing, and very satisfying."
With the heat now off Manly and South Sydney, Brown and
skipper Trent Barrett are bracing for a week of
"I'm the new Peter Sharp and he's the new Steve
Menzies, that's what we were just saying then,"
Brown said as he and Barrett followed Sharp and Menzies
into the post-match press conference.
"That's what it's going to be like tomorrow,"
Brown said, "and that's what I said to Sharpy: 'I'm
the new you'.
"But if it was that easy there would be 800 coaches
and 800 football sides, and I'm sure Trent and Lance
Thompson and those guys will bounce back because they're
great players and I imagine the pressure will make them
stand up better next week."
Barrett added: "We've done a Manly and we're going
to have a week like that, I expect."
|Manly Sea Eagles 38
(Tries: Walker 2, MacDougall, Watmough, Ferris,
Randall, Hopoate. Goals: Ferris 2/3, Walker 3/5)
George Illawarra 12
(Tries: Kite, Cooper. Goals: Riddell 2/3)
2 Scott DONALD
3 Kevin McGUINNESS
4 Ben MACDOUGALL
5 John HOPOATE
6 Luke DORN
7 Jason FERRIS
8 Jason KING
9 Chad RANDALL
10 Danny LIMA
11 Mark SHIPWAY
12 Anthony WATMOUGH
13 Steven MENZIES (C)
15 Tony JENSEN
16 Ben WALKER
17 Solomon HAUMONO