IT’s time for Manly to man-up in defence — or their season of promise will self-destruct.
Unbelievably, the Sea Eagles have conceded 16 tries in the past week.
Nine against St George Illawarra last Sunday in Wollongong and another seven in a thumping 40-6 loss to Melbourne at AAMI Park on Sunday.
That is 92 points in 160 minutes of NRL. A try conceded every 10 minutes.
And Manly face a rampant Sydney Roosters this Sunday afternoon at Brookvale Oval.
Tries flowed in the 7th, 14th, 25th, 32nd, 37th, 58th, 61st, 65th and 78th minutes against the Dragons.
On Sunday they arrived in the 15th, 37th, 46th, 54th, 69th, 72nd and 79th minutes.
Manly missed 52 tackles against the Storm.
“Ordinary,” Manly coach Trent Barrett conceded.
“That’s two weeks in a row now we have been really poor. We need to address it and address it in a hurry.
“We missed too many tackles and made too many fundamental errors.
“To beat Melbourne, we have to be near-perfect. And we were far from it. It’s pretty hard to find a positive in that.”
Asked had the past two games hurt his side’s confidence, Barrett said: “It knocks you around. It does. Our depth is being tested, obviously, but we’ve got to patch ourselves up and get on with it.
“We’ve got five games to go and we need to string some wins together.
“It’s not the end of the world. There are still 10 competition points to get and we are a chance of getting them all. Beyond that, who knows?”
Barrett denied Manly’s form problems were a result of the NRL’s salary cap investigation.
“I’d like to think not,” he said.
“It doesn’t help but it’s not an excuse for us. We just showed no respect for the footy.”
Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans jumped in at that point during the post-match press conference to say: “While those things are a big public distraction, internally it doesn’t stop you from rocking up to training and doing your job.
“Unfortunately, we just haven’t been able to do our jobs properly in the last two weeks. We have made a lot of errors in the past two weeks and have missed a lot of tackles.
“We have to find a way to improve on that and improve quickly. I’ve got no doubt we can come through the other side of this.”
On a day when the legendary Cam Smith celebrated his 350th NRL game, Manly’s defensive deficiencies were again laid bare for all to see.
Manly are seventh on 26 competition points, two points behind Brisbane, North Queensland and Parramatta, and just a win ahead of St George Illawarra and Penrith.
The Eagles do have a favourable run into the finals with games against the Roosters, Wests Tigers, Canterbury, New Zealand and Penrith.
They would need to win at least two of those matches to reach the required 30 competition points to guarantee finals footy.
Bookies would start Manly favourites in three of those matches.
But they may have to head into that run without prop Addin Fonua-Blake, who was placed on report for a high off-the-ball hit on Storm halfback Cooper Cronk.
Cherry-Evans asked referee Gerard Sutton on the field why Cronk wasn’t sent for an HIA concussion test.
It didn’t look good and Fonua-Blake can on Monday expect to be charged by the NRL match review committee.
The match was a triumph for Smith, who was named man-of-the-match in his milestone game.