Plenty more for Manly to give says skipper

Margie McDonald |

Manly’s captain Daly Cherry-Evans warns that his side still has plenty of room for improvement despite holding the Raiders scoreless in the second half on Saturday for a 25-6 win.

After 2022 began with two losses to the Panthers and Roosters respectively, Manly have now balanced the books with back-to-back wins over the Bulldogs and Canberra.

It is a far cry from 2021, when they lost the opening four games. But the Sea Eagles went on a mid-to-late season rampage to earn a spot in the preliminary finals, before falling to South Sydney.

Their Test and Origin halfback knows fans have been expecting Manly to just pick up from where they left off last September.

“Our momentum is not going to just happen … it doesn’t just transfer from last season. You’ve got to create it,” Cherry-Evans said.

“We’re improving every week but we’re not where we need to be. To get a couple of wins earlier in the season than we did last year is obviously improvement in itself.

“But the opposition has improved again this year so we need to keep getting better.”

History does have a way of repeating itself. Manly’s win over the Warriors 12 months ago by the same 13-12 scoreline as the Bulldogs, was followed by a thumping 36-0 victory over the Titans at Glen Willow Oval in Mudgee – the venue for the Raiders’ demise yesterday.

“Yes it’s bizarre … the win last week with the same scoreline and then come to Mudgee and get a nice win,” Cherry-Evans said.

“Those things are so bizarre in rugby league on how they present themselves.”

There was nothing out of the ordinary with Cherry-Evans’ kicking game in the way he dismantled the Raiders with his 21 kicks for 651 metres. He also kicked the 25th field goal of his career, alongside a 40-20 and a 20-40 to retain possession for his team.

Coach Des Hasler, while praising his skipper, was just as pleased that Manly’s renowned attack was starting to resurface.

For the previous three rounds the Sea Eagles hadn’t scored more than 12 points – but they doubled that on Saturday.

“It’s great to get back-to-back wins, build a bit of momentum and take that to Newcastle next week,” Hasler said.

The only concern for the Sea Eagles is a cork to utility Dylan Walker’s left leg, which Hasler described as “pretty severe”.

He said his fullback Tom Trbojevic would be available despite some knee soreness.