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The Rock-itt : April 2010
The finals series is getting closer in the junior representative Harold Matthews and SG Ball sides, and both Manly Sea Eagles are starting to find some form. Round 3 saw the sides travel down the F3 freeway to take on the Newcastle Knights. It wasn't the best weekend for the Brookvale- based club. The U16's side tasted defeat for the first time of the season stumbling 30-16. It was even more disappointing after the start they had as they grabbed all of their points inside the opening 20 minutes. The U18's couldn't get their first victory of the season going down to the Novocastrians 34-24. Despite the disappointing result this was the Sea Eagles most impressive form of the season. Round 4 had the Sea Eagles travel to Sydney's West to go head to head with the Western Suburbs Magpies in a under 16/18's version of a traditional rivalry in rugby league, the Fibros and the Silvertails. As always it was the Harold Matthews demonstrating their skills first, with Manly dominating for most of the match with plenty of standouts. The forwards did well to battle through the hot and humid conditions and continually get the Sea Eagles over the advantage line, Blake Lang picked up a hat-trick and Latrell Schaumkel caused headaches for the Magpies throughout the game as he constantly looked dangerous with the ball in his hands as Manly ran out 44-16 victors. The SG Ball side were looking to rectify a 0-3 start to the season and many feel if it weren't for some very dodgy refereeing decisions midway through the second half, they may have done that. On two occasions the Sea Eagles went over the try- line only for the officials to find something wrong with it despite little evidence as the Magpies stole a 32- 28 win. Round 5 pitted Manly against junior powerhouses, Parramatta Eels. Harold Matthews kicked things off and just looking at the stats you knew Manly were in for an uphill battle. In Parramatta's opening three games of the season they have racked up 174 points and let in a meagre 6. Manly played gallantly on the day and due to a fast finish from the Eels, the score line was not a true representation of the game as Parramatta ran out 48-10 winners despite efforts from Latrell Schaumkel and Clinton Gutherson. Manly's afternoon only became darker as the SG Ball side put on a good showing but were ultimately outplayed by the Parramatta Eels' SG Ball side, who proved they were too big, too fast, and too strong, easily accounting for the Sea Eagles who slumped to an 0-5 start 34-6. The Manly Sea Eagles travelled to Redfern Oval to take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs to kick off round 6 of the junior reps season, and the fans that ventured to the revamped ground were in for a treat with both games going down to the wire. The Harold Matthews side kept their finals hopes alive holding out a fast finishing Rabbitohs outfit 22-20, and the SG Ball side claimed their first victory of the season winning the controversial, high scoring, match of the year 31-30. For the Harold Matthews Latrell Schaumkel continued his run of good form again being one of the Sea Eagles best today, as was fullback Clinton Gutherson who also poses a threat with the ball in his hands and is as safe as houses under the high ball. Dummy half, Fabian Natoli also produced a big contribution on the day, he seemed to be everywhere in the defensive line. The SG Ball game is the one that really got the crown on its feet, after blowing a healthy 22-6 lead early in the second half Manly were on the back foot, but were sent into disarray after one of the most outrageous officiating which saw Manly be reduced from 13 to 11 men in 2 tackles. Souths were penalised for a tackle on Sea Eagles substitute forward Aaron Weston who didn't like the tackle and vented his frustration with a few words to the opposition player. The refs didn't like what they heard and reversed the penalty and sent Weston from the field. The crowd still in shock with what had just happened, were even less impressed by the next tackle. Captain Cale Hobday, who produced his best performance of the season, put a huge hit on his opposite number, but was penalised and sin-binned for a shoulder charge. Despite the insurmountable odds against them, the Sea Eagles side pulled together and a Josh Drinkwater field goal with 3 minutes remaining, clinched a famous victory for Manly. With only a few rounds in the regular season to go one feels that the Harold Matthews side should find themselves in the 8 while the SG Ball side will do it tough despite their gradual improvement. Over the coming weeks Manly will go head to head with Canberra, Sydney, and the WA Reds.