After the way the Sea Eagles crashed out last season against the Penrith Panthers and the summation of their season by Cherry-Evans, it sounded like a committed side that would put action to their words on the field and finish in the top eight once more. However, despite boasting superstar talent, the Northern Beaches side has languished in the mid-regions of the bottom half of the table. One game early in the season particularly stood out against the Eels in which they were comprehensive and convincing victors only to be brought right back down to earth the following week against the Rabbitohs.
Much of their displeasure has been against lesser sides after racking up wins against the Panther, Broncos and Storm this season. The Sea Eagles outfit can match it with some of the best, however, inconsistency has cruelled their finals hopes and aspirations of a third major premiership in ten years.
The Roosters began the new season slowly, with an opening round shock loss to the Wests Tigers and after eight rounds of competition had a 4-4 record. Since then they have won seven times and lost just twice, most recently by just a point against the minor premiers in the Melbourne Storm. Whilst Cooper Cronk has not lit up the competition or had the same impact the Roosters may have hoped for, it could be argued that his persistent and methodical approach to his style of game has helped steer around the Roosters side, with his invaluable experience meaning the Roosters don't often overplay their hand.
2018 - Round 9 - Sydney Roosters 22 def. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 20 at Allianz Stadium
2017 - Round 22 - Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 36 def. Sydney Roosters 18 at Lottoland Stadium
2017 - Round 5 - Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 18 def. Sydney Roosters 12 at Allianz Stadium
2016 - Round 4 - Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 22 def. Sydney Roosters 20 at Allianz Stadium
2015 - Round 25 - Sydney Roosters 46 def. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 10 at Lottoland Stadium
Manly have the better of the most recent five clashes with three victories to their name, with two of those being away fixtures Manly won't gift the Roosters the two points. This clash has history, a 4-0 win to the Roosters in a qualifying final in 2013, that was one for the ages and then the Grand Final that same year. So despite either sides recent form there may be a bit of extra feeling in this one with both sides pole-axing each other and fighting for every inch to ensure victory for their respective side.
|Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles||Sydney Roosters|
|1||Tom Trbojevic||James Tedesco|
|2||Matthew Wright||Daniel Tupou|
|3||Moses Suli||Latrell Mitchell|
|4||Brian Kelly||Joseph Manu|
|5||Brad Parker||Blake Ferguson|
|6||Tom Wright||Luke Keary|
|7||Daly Cherry-Evans||Cooper Cronk|
|8||Addin Fonua-Blake||Jared Waerea-Hargreaves|
|9||Manase Fainu||Jake Friend|
|10||Martin Taupau||Siosiua Taukeiaho|
|11||Joel Thompson||Boyd Cordner|
|12||Shaun Lane||Victor Radley|
|13||Jake Trbojevic||Isaac Liu|
|14||Trent Hodkinson||Ryan Matterson|
|15||Kelepi Tanginoa||Zane Tetevano|
|16||Frank Winterstein||Mitchell Aubusson|
|17||Taniela Paseka||Kurt Baptiste|
|18||Jorge Taufua||Nat Butcher|
|19||Tevita Funa||Lindsay Collins|
|20||Toafofoa Sipley||Matt Ikuvalu|
|21||Lloyd Perrett||Sean O'Sullivan|
The facts that matter
Sit just one win away from the bottom three clubs, a win would see space open up between themselves and those sides, a loss and suddenly they are scrambling for as many wins as possible in the last six matches, to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon.
Daly Cherry-Evans narrowly missed on man of the match honours against New South Wales for his performance two weeks ago. If the Sea Eagles are to win this one he needs to step up and play like that once more, his short kicking game was exemplary with the only criticism being it didn't result in any tries being scored. Tom Wright has now been installed as his latest sidekick in the halves and it finally looks like it could prove to be a winning formula.
Rank in the top five of stats in the NRL for just tackle breaks and possession which work in tandem well. If they can once again win the possession battle Manly's mobile forward pack can poke holes in the Roosters defence and create second phase play for the likes of Tom Trbojevic and Brian Kelly to capitalise on and score late on in the game.
The Roosters welcome back Tedesco, Cronk, Radley, Cordner, Mitchell and Aubusson from Origin or injury in a huge boost to a side that ground out a win against the Titans last weekend. Of those six many would walk into most other NRL sides and will play a huge role in the result this weekend, especially Tedesco. Most believed he was unlucky not to take out player of the series, in State of Origin this year and his form has certaintly risen tenfold since the series began this year. His stats this season read as 4 tries, 6 try assists, 9 line-breaks, 177.6m per game, 96 tackle breaks and a tackle efficiency of 77.5%. A big game player and with the Roosters let with seven games to push for a top two or four finish the man at the back will have a large say in where the Roosters end up.
The Roosters lead the competition in errors (200) and ineffective tackles (316) which puts their side under immense pressure to defend their line. However, the Bondi outfit have by far the best defensive record in the competition with just 239 points conceded all season with Melbourne the next best with 266 points conceded. With, Tom Trbojevic at the back for the Sea Eagles outfit they wouldn't want to gift the Manly side too many guilt-edged opportunities or they could be punished. Play the game of a war of attrition and the Roosters will come out on the wrong end ten times out of ten.
For Manly to have any chance they need to pavce themselves against a Roosters side that is rarely out of touch with their opponents in any given game. The Sydney Roosters returning contingent all have X-factor to their game and it will prove pivotal on Sunday along with their staunch defence which has not conceded over 28 points in a game all season. So with that said, I'm tipping the Roosters to win by 8 points or more.