2018 Shute Shield Season Review: Manly Marlins

The Manly Marlins showed that they are not far from being a genuine contender to add to their trophy cabinet but injuries and some big name departures meant they came up short in 2018.

The Marlins finished fourth and were out of the playoffs by the second week of finals but there were some diamonds found in their playing ranks.

Head Coach Brian ‘Billy’ Melrose loved the work rate and toughness of backorder Sam Shires and feels that as long as some locals come through they will be in a vert good place in 2019.

Here’s what Melrose had to say about their 2018 season:

With hindsight, how do you look back on the season? 
We had a lot of new players coming in and some significant injuries as well as some departures but we fought hard and played fairly close to our potential in a toughly contested competition. Disappointing though to fall short.

You started the season reasonably well, what can you put that down to? 
We started the season in win-then-loss mode for six weeks. Some great wins and close losses before Uni beat us well. It steeled the side for a 12-week unbeaten run and I feel we have built some resilience over the last two years no matter what the situation is or who steps in. But again not enough to get it done at the final hurdles

Was there a match or two that defined your season? 
The win at home against Warringah and the match at the back end where we came from behind to beat Uni were amongst the best. In fairness there was only one way to win the Uni match and we threw the ball relentlessly wide and somehow got them in the end. It was an exciting match.

What did you do well this year?
The team fought very hard right throughout the season. We weren’t always brilliant and had to play differently and change strategies to accomodate different personnel but we adapted pretty well throughout 2018.

What didn’t you do well this year? 
We didn’t finish the year the way we would have wanted. We may have been a little down on troops but we were well beaten in the Grand Final Qualifier. It wasn’t the way anyone wanted to finish our season.

Overall, how did the club fare this season in all grades etc? 
We had a solid season right throughout the club with Reserve Grade and Third Grade finishing in the finals. Colts Ones improved to make the finals and acquitted themselves well after a couple of tough years

Standout players:
Backrower Sam Shires was outstanding from my point of view. He was consistent and tough in every match that he played. Many others gave everything. Sam Lane had a good season till he was injured late while Denis Pili-Gitau was the same right up until he departed for France.

What does your club need to do between now and round one next year? 
We need to develop some more players to take up from those who have departed. That’s the focus we have at the moment. I’d like to think a few young locals can step up. Ultimately we just have to build that little extra resilience and ability to get overt healing if we are good enough to compete again at the business end.

Bold prediction for 2019 
With the squad that Easts have at their disposal they should be a top three side in 2019.

Played: 18
Won: 12
Drawn: 3
Lost: 3
Bonus points: 13 (equal fifth)
Points differential: +159 (fifth)
Finished: Fourth
Finals campaign: L 34-28 v Warringah (Week One Qualifying Final), L 41-3 v Sydney Uni (Grand Final Qualifier).

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