Manly's confidence soaring, says Matai - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Manly's confidence soaring, says Matai

Ian McCullough 11/09/2011 12:29:06 PM Comments (0)

Steve Matai believes Manly have what it takes to go all the way and win the NRL premiership after blowing away North Queensland in Saturday's qualifying final.

The Sea Eagles racked up 42 unanswered second-half points after the Cowboys controlled the opening period at the SFS, despite only leading 8-0 at halftime.

Two tries apiece from Will Hopoate and Brett Stewart helped the Sea Eagles book next weekend off and leave them just one victory away from a third grand final appearance in five years.

With Johnathan Thurston pulling the strings for the visitors in the first half, Manly struggled to get a foothold in the game.

However, Matai revealed it was the players, not coach Des Hasler, who were more frustrated by their performance and that a harsh exchange of words in the dressing room laid the foundations for the second-half blitz.

"Dessie didn't say much at halftime, the boys just took over and said we needed to step up and we did in that second half with our defence," Matai told AAP.

"Our defence was poor in the first half. They were getting quick play-the-balls and getting out of dummy half and we really fixed that and that nullified their attack and produced one of our best performances of the season."

Despite the negativity that surrounded the club over the last fortnight following the infamous Battle of Brookvale and the controversial decision to axe veteran club official Peter Peters, the Kiwi centre said the players' focus never wavered.

"We have really focused on bouncing back this year ... when we've had lapses we've stepped up," he said.

"We didn't worry about all that other stuff, we just wanted to focus on footy ...

"Des didn't say anything to us about it, he didn't need to, as a group we did what we needed to do."

The performance of Hasler's side would have made the remainder of the NRL sit up and take notice as they chalked up 42 points in 32 minutes to shatter the Cowboys, and Matai sees no reason why Manly can't repeat their 2008 success.

"If we play like we did in the second half we can beat anyone," he said.

"That was probably the best we have played, when you look at what was at stake ... if we lose this game and get a tough away draw next week we could be out, so to play how we did was really good.

"We have to play well for the whole game not just 40 minutes, but the character we show in this team is fantastic."

Hasler hailed the character of his players and said the team would welcomed having a week off before a home preliminary final.

"This side's always shown the ability to hang in there and to grind the game out so we needed to be able to do that tonight," Hasler said.

"I think the situation we're in we're down a few players and this time of year players are carrying bumps and bruises the week off is very beneficial for us.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2022 AAP

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