Both Manly and Parramatta featured in the finals last campaign, however this season both sides have found the go around a lot tougher. The Sea Eagles currently reside in 13th place while the Eels are dead last. Poor on-field performances, off-field dramas and some shocking injuries have contributed to the demise of both clubs. Whether you support Trent Barrett's men or Brad Arthur's players, you're about to find out where it's all gone horribly wrong for them this season.
What they are producing on the field
For a club that prides itself on putting everything going on behind the scenes aside and leaving it all out on the field, Manly have done the exact opposite of that so far in 2018. They have suffered nine defeats from thirteen games while in eight matches they have given up twenty or more points mainly courtesy of what has been a leaky defence. Despite having quality big men in the likes of Martin Taupau and Jake Trbojevic in the side, they are not getting consistent enough performances from other members of their once feared forward pack. While attacking wise they started of their season in blistering fashion putting 54 points up on the Eels, but it's been all downhill since there. 21-year-old Lachlan Croker featuring in the halves haven't helped their cause, nor has the constantly changing backline due to injuries and other issues.
While for the Eels they have put up a grand total of 174 points this season, good for worst in the League, while giving up just under 300. Their most recent 30-4 loss to the struggling Knights highlighted their major deficiencies in both attack and defence. While they scored just one try through George Jennings in their game against Brisbane the game before that. They have just a meager two wins this campaign and have looked the exact opposite to that of their side from last season. Their game is filled with silly errors and it's not looking like it'll improve anytime soon. This is compounded by the fact that two of their star players in the form of halves pairing Corey Norman and Mitchell Moses has put up a combined three tries this season in addition to their 0.5 offloads per game.
For Manly, their salary cap charges nearly engulfed the club and saw them struggle through a large period of it. Yes, the Sea Eagles cheated the cap in a period of time irrelevant to their Golden Era of 2007-2013, however they got punished for it accordingly. But it took a massive mental and physical toll on the club. Coach Barret and Captain DCE had to constantly front the media about it because of a board that was too scared to do it themselves. While Cherry-Evans also had his multi-million dollar contract asked about plenty of times, despite the fact that it was all regulated. Players didn't know whether they still had a future at the club or not and that no doubt played on their minds. Everything from the initial news breaking to the eventual fines and punishments that were handed out went over a very long period and that affected the club in quite a severe way. If this hasn't been enough for the club to deal with, Barrett's future has also been called into question by some fans as well as Dale Cherry Evan's captaincy credentials.
For the Eels there were countless reports that Brad Arthur had lost the dressing room and quite frankly from their results this season, it's not all that hard to draw your own conclusions about it all. Arthur is one of the main men responsible from bringing Jarryd Hayne back to the club after his ill-fated stint with the Gold Coast. Hayne has recently in the past two years or so developed a reputation as being a selfish player and someone who has a negative influence in the locker room. His perceived negative attitude and major absence from the side definitely hasn't helped Parramatta when they've needed him most this season. If this wasn't all enough Corey Norman, a man who has had his supposed past issues was fined $20,000 by the club for drinking while injured. Not a good look for Corey himself or the public image of the club. And that short saga sure as hell didn't help the club either.
Injuries and Missed Games
Having players on the hospital bed is never good for a team and that has been especially the case for both these sides in 2018. Young talent Brad Parker has played only six games this campaign. While Taufua has seen the field only five times. Representative center Dylan Walker has missed time as has Jonathan Wright. Curtis Sironen is out for the season with an ACL injury. And these are only some of the names that have been out or are currently out for the wounded Eagles. And with some of the star power missing, you can see why the Northern Beaches men have struggled majorly this season. As for Parramatta Kirisome Auva'a has played only six games, Nathan Brown the same, while Bevan French has missed three. While Clint Gutherson, arguably Parramatta's best has seen the field only eight times this campaign. Arthur's men haven't exactly been lucky with injuries either.
So no matter how you want to coin it, both sides have been simply shocking this season and sadly are showing no signs of a revival. And that is why the Sea Eagles continue to tumble down the crazy hill that is the NRL ladder. While sadly for the Eels, they are already there.
Where do you think it has gone wrong for both Manly and Parramatta in 2018? Which struggler were you most surprised by? Let us know in the comments and poll below.