Manly march on as Tigers’ finals hopes dim
ALL hail Hasler.
That's the triumphant chorus being sung on Sydney's Northern Beaches in honour of coach Des Hasler's impact at a resurgent Manly this season.
On the back of Hasler's smarts in the coaching box, the finals-bound Sea Eagles put a dent in the Wests Tigers' top-eight hopes with a dominant 32-12 victory at Lottoland.
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Led by a double from improved back-rower Jack Gosiewski and the brilliance of skipper Daly Cherry-Evans, Manly were too strong for an injury-ravaged Tigers side missing a cast of players, including stars Robbie Farah and Moses Mbye.
Hooker Jacob Liddle was also carried off the field with a serious knee injury six minutes into the match, adding to the joint-venture club's injury woes.
As a result, the understrength yet brave Tigers couldn't contain a confident Manly side on home turf.
In fairness, nine of Wests' youthful starting 13 were in primary school when Benji Marshall won the 2005 grand final.
Regardless of age, the Tigers must be more consistent if they want to squeeze into the top eight.
Michael Maguire's men are in 10th position with winnable clashes against the Knights (home), Dragons (away) and Cronulla (home) to finish the regular season.
MANLY REDISCOVER MOJO
Forget the Tigers for now - it's Hasler's Manly boys who will dominate the headlines.
This time last year, it had emerged coach Trent Barrett had resigned in July while the Sea Eagles were battling out for the wooden spoon.
Flash forward 12 months and Manly are in contention for a top four finish with three rounds left.
The Sea Eagles face a tough but achievable run home against Canberra (A), Melbourne (H) and Parramatta (A) before the finals.
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Coach Hasler deserves huge praise for Manly's return to form.
The veteran mentor has instilled a belief in his players that anything is possible with hard work and dedication.
This mentality is on show in spades every time the Sea Eagles take the field.
Hasler is now the overwhelming favourite to claim the coach of the year honours following his remarkable revival of Manly this season.
TIGERS REQUIRE FIT BODIES
The Tigers need Farah and Mbye back to have any chance of competing this season.
Maguire's side were gutsy against Manly but lacked the fine polish that comes from veteran campaigners.
Farah isn't expected back from a knee injury until the final round against Cronulla at Leichhardt Oval.
Depending on results, the Tigers' season could be over by then.
Adding to Wests' woes, halfback Luke Brooks was placed on report for dropping the knees on Manly back-rower Jack Gosiewski in the first-half.