adds cutting edge to Eagles
By Greg Prichard - www.smh.com.au 28/3/2005
Manly 25 Melbourne 18
Ben Kennedy should not have played yesterday, but the
word "not" remains outside of his vocabulary.
After being unable to train all week because of a torn
calf muscle in his right leg, he dragged himself onto
Brookvale Oval for Manly and led the forwards the
"BK" way as the Sea Eagles landed on top of the
competition table for the first time since 1997, the year
of their most recent grand final appearance.
If there was one moment that summed up the veteran
representative star's commitment it came in the 69th
minute, when Manly were hanging on to a 24-18 lead and
Melbourne were attacking their line.
Storm lock Dallas Johnson charged the ball forward and
was almost cut in half by a two-man tackle from lock
Kennedy and prop Daniel Heckenberg. The ball came loose
and the chance was gone and Manly went on to win,
halfback Michael Monaghan finally putting it beyond doubt
when he landed a field goal with his third attempt, two
minutes from full-time.
Kennedy is renowned for his commitment and having him
around is helping to bring out the best of the younger
players at Manly, including second-rower Anthony Watmough
and fullback Brett Stewart, who each had strong games
"He's just incredible," Watmough said
afterwards. "He's got so much courage. If half of
the rest of us in the team had as much courage as he's
got, we'd never lose."
Stewart added: "It's awesome having him around, with
his class and experience. He revs the guys up. He's
always got something to say and it's always the smarts of
Kennedy has missed a significant number of games through
injury in recent years, but each time it must have been a
devil of a problem because the real story with him is his
ability to play injured. He proved that ability again
yesterday with a marvellous display of mind over matter
as he played with a type of injury that could not be
covered with a painkilling injection.
"I tried to train a bit on Saturday, but it was
pretty sore," Kennedy said. "I iced it and it
felt pretty ordinary, but when I woke up this morning it
didn't feel too bad. The doctor told me I couldn't make
it much worse by playing and I knew we had the bye next
week, so I thought I'd play.
"It's nothing, really, just a little tear in the
Manly coach Des Hasler tried to nurse Kennedy through the
game by giving him an extended break during the first
half, but Kennedy then went back out and played the
entire second half.
Melbourne scored the first six points and Manly the next
18, before the Storm came back to register the next 12 to
set up a dramatic finish. The Storm may have gone on to
lose, but their fullback - Billy Slater - had provided
the most exciting moment of the game by taking off with
that trademark speed to swoop on a kick from halfback
Matt Orford, somehow cleanly collecting the rolling ball
along the way to scoring.
Melbourne could not thread together enough moments like
that, however, and they were beaten in the forward
After winning in each of the first two rounds only to end
up smothered in bad publicity because of the exploits of
the since suspended and retired John Hopoate, the Sea
Eagles will get full value out of yesterday's win against
the team that had topped the table after two rounds.
"We want to make Brookvale Oval a fortress again and
we're on the way to doing that," Hasler said.
"We brought Ben Kennedy to the club because he's got
the ability to lift people and he did that today. Plus,
the confidence and leadership skills of our captain,
Michael Monaghan, really came through today as well. I
thought they were two of the highlights of the
Halfback Monaghan, in the tradition of Manly captains,
repeatedly quizzed decisions by the referee, in this case
Steve Clark, but said he didn't think he had gone
"There is a line you have to draw and then try not
to step over and I think I handled it OK," he said.
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy said his team had come off
a soft run to start the season after two easy wins over
struggling opponents and that he knew it was going to be
much tougher yesterday.
Asked about Manly's chances in the long run this year,
Bellamy replied: "I think they might surprise a few
Sea Eagles 25
Tries: Heckenberg, Randall, Dunley, Stewart.
Goals: Witt 4.
Field Goals: Monaghan 1.
Melbourne Storm 18
Tries: Bell, Cronk, Slater
Goals: Smith 3.
27 March 2005
Referee: Steve Clark