Eagles aiming high after 2009 sting - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eagles aiming high after 2009 sting

By Ed Jackson 10/08/2010 02:24:55 PM Comments (0)

If any of this year's finals contenders appreciate the need to finish as high as possible inside the NRL's top eight then it is Manly.

The Sea Eagles finished fifth at the end of last year's home and away rounds and would have thought they were a certainty for at least two weeks of finals footy before Parramatta's Jarryd Hayne-inspired victory over St George Illawarra.

That win by the eighth-placed Eels and Brisbane's victory over the Gold Coast meant Manly's then had to play Melbourne at Etihad Stadium in their first final, with the losers eliminated from the competition.

The Sea Eagles lost that fixture to the eventual grand final winners, 40-12.

And, currently sitting sixth on the ladder with four matches to play after Saturday's 26-6 thrashing of the Storm at Brookvale Oval, the Sea Eagles are keen to climb as high on the ladder as possible by September.

"Certainly we want to finish as high as we can up the competition ladder because if the result went with us (against Melbourne last year) ... you would've seen the team which finished fourth get bundled out," Sea Eagles co-captain Jason King told reporters on Tuesday.

"So it's very important to win plenty of matches leading into finals.

"I don't think we've seen a competition so close for a number of years.

"I definitely think whoever sneaks into the finals series are going to get a real chance, we saw Parramatta went within a game last year."

The Sea Eagles are two points behind the fourth-placed Titans and a home semi-final going into this weekend's round of matches.

But coach Des Hasler will have to shuffle the deckchairs for next Monday's trip to Kogarah to tackle the ladder-leading Dragons with Josh Perry (dislocated tibia) and Ben Farrar (knee) definitely out and Anthony Watmough (cork), Matt Ballin (concussion) and Trent Hodkinson (dangerous tackle charge) also possible absentees.

Despite the possible lack of so many first-team players, prop Brent Kite feels the Sea Eagles still have the cattle to take on the Dragons.

And he's another who is keen to avoid a similar one strike and you're out result in this year's finals.

"Going down to Etihad last year for me sticks out and we finished fifth, just missed out on that home semi, and the rest is history," Kite said.

"We never got another shot at it. We'll be pushing real hard for that top four.

"We're still confident. You saw the guys that came on last week, we lost Josh early, but Joe Galuvao and Matt Cross will come back into the team and they're capable of playing some good footy.

"This time of the year we want to be hitting our straps. We've been in decent form, a little hiccup against the Knights, but I reckon we can really get back on track and build something.

"That team which is performing best at the end of the year can really do well in the finals."

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