Shocking Sharks a solace in NRL to Manly

Manly fans can take some solace in the Sea Eagles’ poor start to the NRL season in their next opponent – Cronulla.

The Sharks have endured one of the worst losing records in rugby league history in their efforts at Brookvale Oval over the years, winning just five of 38 matches at the iconic venue since their first season in 1967.

Manly host Cronulla on Monday night in the final match of the third round.

Last season, Jorge Taufua feasted on the Sharks in Manly’s 28-18 round-17 win in scoring three tries. In 2014, Steve Matai crossed for a double in the Sea Eagles’ easy 24-4 round-three victory. In 2013, on their way to the grand final, Manly prevailed 25-18 in round six with Daly Cherry-Evans leading the way.

However, new-look Manly haven’t started this season impressively under rookie coach Trent Barrett. They were thumped 28-6 by Canterbury at Brookvale in round one and went down 36-22 on Monday night to Wests Tigers.

In contrast, the Sharks have started well, losing 20-14 to premiers North Queensland in round one before hammering St George Illawarra 30-2 on Sunday.

Hooker Michael Ennis wasn’t interested in the Sharks’ poor record at Brookvale when it was brought to his attention on Tuesday by AAP.

“We are not worried about the past and records like that – we are a new team now,” Ennis said.

“We have started the year pretty well. We have a bit to work on and part of that is our defence. We have a bit of a turnaround to Monday night and we are looking forward to it.”

However, Ennis conceded Brookvale was a tough place to come away from with a win.

“It is always a tough game there at Brookie,” he said.

“I didn’t play in that game there last year because of Origin, so it will be good to get back there.”

What hasn’t helped Manly is the mountain of defence they have had to make. The Sea Eagles have collectively made 634 tackles over the opening two rounds, the most of any side ahead of Parramatta with 618 tackles and Melbourne’s 616.

Barrett knows his team have plenty of work to do before meeting the Sharks.

“We were good in patches (against the Tigers) but we were poor in patches, too,” he said.

“We have to be more resilient and put in that 80-minute performance.”

Brett Stewart is rated only a 50/50 chance to play his first game of the season against Cronulla as he continues to battle a hamstring injury.

Sharks skipper Paul Gallen visited a specialist on Tuesday over his knee injury, but is likely to remain on the sidelines for another month.

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