They beat Easts in round two at the death. They beat Two Blues at home in round four.

Outside of that, it’s safe to say, Shute Shield season 2021 won’t have its own chapter in Sean Rout’s updated version of Sun, Surf & Scrums: The Story of the Manly Marlins.

There was a terrible shellacking by Gordon (78-10), a touch-up by Sydney University (48-13) and a boulevard of broken dreams when dusted by Warringah (40-14) in the derby game at Rat Park.

Most ignominious of all was a 17-14 loss to competition new chums Hunter Wildfires as a wild and woolly southerly squall whipped horizontal salt licks across muddy Manly Oval.

And thus the Marlins sit 3rd-last on the Shute Shield ladder above only Penrith and Western Sydney on 13 premiership points – with God only knows how many rounds left in this Covid-interrupted season.

Face of a season: Manly Marlins prop Tau Koloamatangi. Pic: David MacLean PBS Sportspics

Looking for answers? You’re not alone. Veteran backrower Harry Bergelin reckons the Marlins haven’t yet worked out how to be Marlins.

“We struggled with our identity for a fair part of the season and didn’t really know what worked for us,” Bergelin told Mark Cashman in Rugby News.

“There were also a lot of personnel changes in and around our game leaders and that really affected us.

“We were trying guys in positions where they hadn’t played before [largely due to injury] and at this level that just doesn’t work,” Bergelin said.

Pain barrier: Harry Bergelin versus Southern Districts. Pic: David MacLean PBS Sportspics

The 30-year-old added that Manly had always been able to “run it from anywhere” because of a physical forward pack that would dominate at set piece and also connect with the backs.

In 2021 it’s been too weighted towards the pigs, according to Bergelin.

“This year we’ve been a bit forward heavy.

“And we must learn to link the forwards and the backs a lot better,” Bergelin said.

Harry Bergelin spins it out the backs. Pic: David MacLean PBS Sportspics

Bergelin is playing in his tenth season of Shute Shield and told Rugby News the competition has gone from “men to boys”.

“When I first came in it was a lot of men and a few boys playing in the first grade squads across Sydney.

“Now there’s far more boys across the park. That’s not to say that the footy’s not better and maybe guys are getting better at a younger age.

“But back then every squad was filled with men. Now there are a lot of 21- and 22-year-olds. I don’t know if it’s work or property prices but that’s the way that things are tracking.” Bergelin said.

There’s a pretty good 21-year-old coming back in the form of mobile and aggressive lock Max Douglas who’s been released from Waratahs duties.

Max Douglas is a big “In” for Manly Marlins. Pic: Adam MacDonald

Douglas will be joined in the tight-five by tough front-rower Sia Tatola (also from the Waratahs) while James Ohmsen – one of the Marlins accursed line of injured five-eighths – will be back when the competition resumes.

(When? Watch this space. But if Covid-19 cases continue to drop and restrictions ease, the Marlins first game back could be the first Saturday in August.)

Bergelin said the influx of talent will “certainly help through the back end of our campaign”. But he also said his team has been competitive for long stretches in most matches.

“We’ve been there or there about in a lot of games but to be honest it’s not what the expectations are for where we need to be at Manly.

“From there we just need to stick together and finish things off as best we can,” Bergelin said.