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Match Report - Round 9 2005

Manly has plenty of front
By Dean Ritchie - 9/5/2005

THREE-try hero Ben Kennedy admitted to feeling proud after depleted Manly miraculously overcame the loss of four first-string front rowers in one week to defeat Wests Tigers yesterday.

The Sea Eagles secured a ninth successive win at Brookvale after having to field a side without Brent Kite, Kylie Leuluai, Daniel Heckenberg and Jason King.

All four were ruled out within just days of each other - Kite, Heckenberg and King through injury, and Leuluai by suspension.

Into the fray came forwards Jim Curtis, Mark Bryant and Kane Cleal.

Bryant and Cleal have only played several NRL matches between them while Curtis was on debut, having played A grade for Belrose just three years ago.

But the new players stepped up to help Manly remain in equal first position on the premiership table.

"I was a little bit worried. Losing four front rowers you lose a lot of go-forward and experience," Kennedy said.

"You can't get that back ... all you can do is gee the younger blokes up and get them to lift their game.

"I was very proud of the kids. It was excellent."

Adding to Manly's heroic victory was Anthony Watmough and Steve Menzies backing up from Friday night's City-Country game.

Watmough, again, was magnificent, making two memorable trysaving tackles late in the match when Wests Tigers were hammering the Sea Eagles tryline.

Asked about Watmough and Menzies playing twice in three days, Kenendy said: "It lifts the boys, that sort of thing. When you back up there's an excuse just to walk around and play all right, but they've come out and played excellently.

"It shows we're heading in the right direction with attitude."

Kennedy was generous with his words but some praise should have been directed at him.

The Test forward scored three tries yesterday, enabling Manly to overcome a 22-18 half-time deficit.

"We showed a lot of character, it was a gutsy win," said Manly coach Des Hasler.

Asked how his side overcame the front-row crisis, skipper Michael Monaghan said: "You can get caught up in the players you have lost.

"But it gave four players an opportunity and they proved today they are worthy first graders. It shows the depth we have."

Wests Tigers yet again produced a fine first half but again fell away in the second.

Manly surged early in the second half, scoring tries in the 44th, 53rd and 60th minutes to claim their win.

The Sea Eagles won despite having to wait 23 minutes for their first penalty.

Hasler was upset with the performance of English referee Russell Smith and said he would contact referees coach Robert Finch to discuss the matter.

Asked whether he, too, would ring Finch, Tigers coach Tim Sheens said: "I'm sick to death of ringing Robert Finch."

Cleal was placed on report for a high tackle on Wests Tigers forward Bryce Gibbs in the 27th minute. The pair have been at each other since junior representative matches.

"It was an old score and the kid (Cleal) will pay a penalty," said Sheens. "He didn't miss him."

Sheens said his side's second half cost them any chance.

"After a good first half we shot ourselves in the foot," he said.

Sheens said some of his side's senior players had to "have a look at themselves".

Manly 34:
(B Kennedy 3, C Hicks, B Stewart, M Witt tries; M Witt 5 goals)
Wests Tigers 26:
(L Fulton, A Laffranchi, S Prince, M Rieck, P Whatuira tries; B Hodgson 3 goals).

Brookvale Oval

Referee: R Smith.



Brett Stewart
Scott Donald
Terry Hill
Paul Stephenson
Chris Hicks
Michael Witt
Michael Monaghan
Ben Kennedy
Anthony Watmough
Steve Menzies
Mark Bryant
Chad Randall
Jim Curtis
Luke Williamson
Sam Harris
Shayne Dunley
Kane Cleal