It was really pleasing to win our final game of the season at Langtree Park but more importantly we advance to the next stage of the play offs.
We are very satisfied with the way we are playing at the moment, the team is playing as fluently and with as much confidence as we have done all season.
After conceding a disappointing try at the start of the game we never really looked back from there, we managed to keep our composure and went on to score some fantastic tries of our own. Most pleasing is that we stuck to the game plan given to us by Nathan Brown and reaped the rewards from doing so.
James Roby’s return to the side has certainly helped us in that department and his ability to bring other players into the game adds another dimension to our play.
Jon Wilkin was great for us and controls the team very well, with Wilko doing this it allows our most potent attacking players like Jonny Lomax to play with freedom and he was another who was fantastic and came up with some great plays.
We were fortunate that the conditions were very good and helped us to play a more expansive style of play, we just need to be mindful that in the coming weeks its likely that we will play in different conditions which will present a whole new challenge, we will need to be able to adapt our game plan accordingly but with key personnel back in crucial positions I’m confident we can do that.
g Our next challenge is a trip to Headingley on Friday evening to take on the Leeds Rhino’s, there’s no doubt that it will be an extremely tough game against a team who have a wealth of experience in play off football.
Playing at Leeds is always a challenge but its a place we really enjoy going to, there’s always a great atmosphere and we often take a strong travelling support there which gives the lads a huge lift.
Leeds and ourselves have for a long time had a great rivalry, I think that stems from the fact that we have played each other in numerous big games over the past 10 years or so and a number of players from both teams have been a part of that. Over that period the rivalry has continued to grow but so to has the respect that both teams have for each other, I believe the rivalry has developed because we are very similar in the fact that we are two big clubs, very competitive and want desperately to be successful.
I have a lot of admiration for their players especially seasoned campaigners like Kevin Sinfield and Jamie Peacock and despite the rivalry we have I have always got on great with those guys but that will all be put to one side for 80 minutes come Friday night.
What has been noticeable again this season is the drop in attendances for the early play off games, something that I’m sure is a concern for the games governing body.
I would like to see a system put into place whereby play off matches are incorporated into season ticket prices, I feel its unfair to ask supporters to constantly shell out money after they’ve already made a considerable investment in buying a season ticket.
Also, its not a great look for the game when the most important games of the year are being played in half empty stadiums at a time when the game is looking to attract major sponsorship. It’s certainly something to consider for the game as we continue to look for growth.
g Finally, with Catalan Dragons defeat at Hull last weekend it signalled the retirement of the remarkable Steve Menzies. Steve who this year turned 40 made his debut for Manly in Australia back in 1993 and is an inspiration to many.
He has changed the perception that players should retire when they get into their early thirties and with the advancement in Sports Science it’s becoming more common for players to play till their mid thirties and beyond.
To have a career that has had such longevity is a testament to his professionalism and his ability to adapt his game over the years, by all accounts he’s a fantastic bloke too and after 20 years of playing can now return home to Australia and enjoy a well earned break.
Thanks for continued support - Wello