Season Summary: The Sea Eagles had a poor start to the year, sitting in last position at the mid-point of the season with an extremely unflattering defensive record. They fought back in the second half of the season to qualify for the finals, only to be knocked out by the Newcastle Knights in week one. However, from the position they were in, sixth spot on the ladder is certainly a satisfying finish to the year, and their coach Luke Williamson is proud of how his players turned it around.
Coach Luke Williamson says: “[This season] wasn’t too bad obviously. We started out reasonably scratchy, but we knew that if we got our backyard in order that we’d be able to do something. The ups and downs of the season with injuries went our way in the back-end of the year, and it showed what we could do, so in that regard it was quite pleasing.”
Best Game: Travelling across the ditch and defeating the New Zealand Warriors is no easy feat, and that’s exactly what the Sea Eagles achieved in Round 20. At this stage, the Sea Eagles were fighting for every win in a bid to make the finals, and the 18-16 victory was vital as well as notable because they have had little success over there in recent years.
Worst Game: After defeating the odds and forcing their way into the VB NSW Cup finals series with some sublime performances, a 45-6 thrashing at the hands of the eventual premiers, the Newcastle Knights, in an elimination final was certainly not ideal. Jaelen Feeney and Kerrod Holland tore the Sea Eagles apart, which was an unfortunate end for Williamson and the players.
Turning Point: The Round 19 bye proved to be the turning point of the Sea Eagles’ season, as they won their next five matches to qualify for the finals. They went on to defeat the Warriors, the Magpies twice, the Bulldogs and the Knights – before going down to them in the elimination final.
Standout Performers: Williamson named a host of players that consistently did the Manly jumper proud in season 2015 including Jayden Hodges, Michael Chee Kam, Siosaia Vave, Brayden Wiliame and Dom Reardon. Reardon scored 13 tries and ran for almost 3,000 metres, while Chee Kam, Hodges and Vave all ranked in the top ten for offloads. Hodges made over 650 tackles, while Vave ran 219 times for over 2,700 metres, and made 12 try assists.
Destined for the NRL: Jayden Hodges lifts the players around him no matter what team he plays in, and has NRL-starting hooker written all over him. He is dynamic out of dummy half, has the ability to force a dropout or set up a try with his deadly grubber, and is a workhorse in defence. He has played 14 NRL matches over three seasons, and certainly carries his weight in first grade.
Future Focus: Results in the first half of the season certainly did not reflect the Sea Eagles’ performances, and they will look at that as a positive when building into 2015. With the roster they have, they certainly underachieved this season, and with a new NRL coach in Trent Barrett ready to take the reins on November 2, there will certainly be a fresh approach heading into season 2016.
Available Season Reviews: