Sunday afternoon football returns to Brookvale Oval for the first time this year and how good is it to see blockbuster matchups at suburban grounds! After a series of fantastic crowds over the opening weekend, the Eels vs. Sea Eagles match offers yet another opportunity for a full house - No doubt, the Manly faithful will be out in force to pack the Brookie hill.
Both these sides entered Round 1 with plenty of promise and yet neither did enough to notch their first win. Manly put in a solid showing against a new look Newcastle Knights and would have felt stiff not to come away with something from their golden point clash. For Parramatta, what started as a promising Sunday outing against the Panthers, quickly turned into an afternoon to forget as they surrendered a big halftime lead. Both sides possess genuine attacking talent and the likes of Trbojevic, Hayne, French, and Uate, should ensure this matchup is an absolute try-fest.
2017 – Rd 1 – Parramatta 20 def. Manly 12 at Brookvale Oval
2016 - Rd 22 - Parramatta 10 def. Manly 9 at Parramatta Stadium
2016 - Rd 7 - Parramatta 22 def. Manly 10 at Brookvale Oval
2014 - Rd 24 - Parramatta 20 def. Manly 16 at Brookvale Oval
2015 - Rd 1 - Parramatta 42 def. Manly 12 at Parramatta Stadium
This clash has historically been a close affair with four of the last five meetings decided by two tries or fewer. It's Paramatta who have the recent ascendency over their bitter rivals. The last time Manly got one up over the Eels was all the way back in Round 3, 2014.
|Manly Sea Eagles||Parramatta Eels|
|1||Tom Trbojevic||Bevan French|
|2||Jorge Taufua||Josh Hoffman|
|3||Brad Parker||Michael Jennings|
|4||Brian Kelly||Jarryd Hayne|
|5||Akuila Uate||Kirisome Auva’a|
|6||Lachlan Croker||Corey Norman|
|7||Daly Cherry-Evans (C)||Mitch Moses|
|8||Addin Fonua-Blake||Tim Mannah (C)|
|9||Apisai Koroisau||Cameron King|
|10||Martin Taupau||Daniel Alvaro|
|11||Joel Thompson||Manu Ma’u|
|12||Curtis Sironen||Tepai Moeroa|
|13||Jake Trbojevic||Nathan Brown|
|14||Jackson Hastings||Beau Scott (C)|
|15||Shaun Lane||Brad Takairangi|
|16||Lloyd Perrett||Suaia Matagi|
|17||Kelepi Tanginoa||Kane Evans|
|18||Matthew Wright||William Smith|
|19||Lewis Brown||Kenneth Edwards|
|20||Jack Gosiewski||David Gower|
|21||Frank Winterstein||Kaysa Pritchard|
The facts that matter
With the departure of five-eighth Blake Green to the Warriors, Manly are banking on rookie half Lachlan Croker firing them to a finals appearance in Season 2018. Croker had a mixed bag against the Knights in Round 1, producing five errors in what was a modest performance. Should Croker fail to gel with halves partner Daly Cherry-Evans, it won't be long before coach Trent-Barrett looks elsewhere. Curtis Sironen trained at five-eighth during the pre-season, while Tom Trbojevic has also deputized in the halves leaving Manly plenty of options for the number six jersey. With only a handful of games to his name, it will take time for Croker to find his feet, but a 0-2 start to the season will see pressure mount on the youngster.
Last Sunday's 'Battle of the West' saw Jarryd Hayne make his long-awaited NRL return for the blue and gold. While expectations were high, Hayne never really delivered, failing to make a line break or tackle bust in his 80 minutes on the field. Up against the inexperienced Brad Parker this week, Hayne will look to make amends for a quiet opener and he may be in luck. It was Manly's right edge that proved to be their Achilles heel last season, letting in a bulk of the 87 tries scored against them. Hayne looks primed for a big one and he'll get no better chance than Sunday. With a dry track predicted, don't be surprised to see the Eels centre pop up for a try or two in this one.
18... That's the number of unanswered points that Parramatta let in against Penrith last Sunday in what was a very tame effort. After dominating possession and having the run of play during the first half, Parramatta surrendered meekly to the Panthers in the second stanza. Parramatta's defensive collapse wasn't helped by the sin-binning of Mitchell Moses but even his presence wouldn't have spared them. Coach Brad Arthur will expect a marked improvement on last week and they'll need it against a Manly side that showed a real appetite for attack against the Knights.
Sunday afternoon footy returns to Brookvale Oval and it is an absolute cracker! Despite Paramatta's recent superiority, this clash promises to be a closely fought affair. It's hard to separate these two based on form alone. The key battle looks to be in the halves, and that's where Parramatta have the supremacy. Cherry-Evans was ultra impressive last week against the Knights, however, his partner Croker never really got going. After quiet Round 1 performances, Corey Norman and Mitchell Moses will look to bounce back in style and should have the experience to steer Parramatta over the line. Parramatta in a close one... just.