Manly coach Des Hasler confident scintillating Sea Eagles can grind out a win over South Sydney

Matt Logue NCA NewsWire
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Manly coach Des Hasler is confident his side can defeat South Sydney in a grinding game to continue his unbeaten preliminary final record, amid claims the Sea Eagles are “flat track bullies”.

Hasler’s men have copped criticism this season for only being able to win games when they are dominating field possession.

In comparison, Friday’s rivals Souths can grind their way to victory, as shown in their win over Penrith in the first week of the finals.

Hasler, who has never lost a preliminary final as a player or coach, has faith in his Sea Eagles to battle it out with the Bunnies in a close game.

“We’ve probably had a couple of those (tight) games and it is probably just a situation that arises,” Hasler said.

“I don’t think there is any one script, and it is a matter of turning up and putting your best performance forward.

“That is all you can really do in prelim finals. They are like that.”

Hasler didn’t know about his unbeaten preliminary final record as a player and coach, but he hopes he can continue his record run.

The Sea Eagles mentor also isn’t taking any results for granted in the finals as he knows how hard it is to win the big games.

“I don’t think there is a secret (to that record), but it is a good fact,” he said.

“It is comforting, but it is do or die and that is what makes these particular games so much different to the other games.”

Hasler also knows Manly faces the ultimate challenge coming up against an in-form Souths side coached by seven-time premiership-winning coach Wayne Bennett.

He believes the Rabbitohs’ big men have been the secret to the team’s success.

“I think their forward pack has been a real cornerstone,” he said.

“It is very underrated, and they have been going about their work. They are working very hard for each other, and they have got a lot of experience in the halves that have played a lot of footy.

“And they are good at handling those clutch moments.”

Speaking of clutch moments, Hasler has faith in Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans to also deliver when it matters most.

He says the Sea Eagles’ skipper has come of age as a playmaker and person in recent seasons.

“I’ve always had that view and there is no doubt about the credentials of what Cherry has done,” he said.

“He has proven, and he has been tested as one of the best players and leaders in the game and that has been a real focus for him.

“You can just see how much he has grown, the work he does there and how he goes about his business, providing that support and base for the players.

“He is doing an outstanding job and I’m impressed and proud of the efforts he has done.”

Originally published as Manly coach Des Hasler confident scintillating Sea Eagles can grind out a win over South Sydney

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