The Roosters travel to Brookvale to take on a Manly side with their backs against the wall. Can the Sea Eagles turn their poor form around against their red hot visitors?
The second-placed Roosters take on seventh-placed Manly this Sunday afternoon for what should be an enthralling contest leading into the finals. These two top-eight sides have had extremely differing past fortnights. The Roosters made easy work of the Knights in round 20 and came from behind to topple the Cowboys last week. Which is quite the contrast from Manly’s 30-point mauling from the Dragons followed by a 34-point loss at the hands of the Storm. You’ve surely got to wonder if the Sea Eagles’ bubble has now burst. They had won eight out of ten prior to those defeats but can the Sea Eagles turn around back to back heavy defeats against an in-form Roosters outfit?
2017 – Rd 5 Manly 18 def. Sydney 12 at Allianz Stadium
2016 – Rd 4 Manly 22 def. Sydney 20 at Allianz Stadium
2015 – Rd 25 Sydney 46 def. Manly 10 at Brookvale Oval
2014 – Rd 4 Manly 8 def. Sydney 0 at Allianz Stadium
2013 – GF Sydney 26 def. Manly 18 at ANZ Stadium
These clubs have only clashed once a year since 2014 with the Sea Eagles winning three of the last four meetings. They played each other on four occasions in the Roosters’ 2013 Premiership winning season with the tricolours winning all of those matches, including the Grand Final. Aside from the Roosters’ big win in 2015, these have been tight tussles between two evenly matched sides so we can expect another hotly contested battle that goes down to the wire.
Their round five encounter was of outstanding quality with a late Dylan Walker try giving Manly a hard-fought victory over the previously unbeaten Roosters, showing they had the potential to match it with the best teams in 2017. Both sides maintained a high standard of football which saw them entrenched in the top four until Manly’s dramatic dip in form over the past two rounds. The Sea Eagles will look to draw confidence from that victory in the early rounds and reignite their season in front of their home crowd this weekend.
|Tom Trbojevic||1||1||Connor Watson|
|Matthew Wright||2||2||Daniel Tupou|
|Dylan Walker||3||3||Latrell Mitchell|
|Brian Kelly||4||4||Joseph Manu|
|Akuila Uate||5||5||Blake Ferguson|
|Blake Green||6||6||Luke Keary|
|Daly Cherry-Evans||7||7||Mitchell Pearce|
|Brenton Lawrence||8||8||Jared Waerea-Hargreaves|
|Apisai Koroisau||9||9||Victor Radley|
|Martin Taupau||10||10||Dylan Napa|
|Frank Winterstein||11||11||Ryan Matterson|
|Shaun Lane||12||12||Mitchell Aubusson|
|Jake Trbojevic||13||13||Isaac Liu|
|Lewis Brown||14||14||Zane Tetevano|
|Brad Parker||15||15||Sio Siua Taukeiaho|
|Darcy Lussick||16||16||Aidan Guerra|
|Lloyd Perrett||17||17||Mitchell Cornish|
|Jarrad Kennedy||18||18||Kane Evans|
|Cameron Cullen||19||19||Jake Friend|
|Jonathon Wright||20||20||Chris Smith|
|Kelepi Tanginoa||21||21||Nat Butcher|
The Facts That Matter
Manly Sea Eagles
As I’ve already touched on, Manly have been woeful over the past fortnight and will need to shore up their defence if there is any hope of emerging victorious. They have conceded 92 points and missed over 100 tackles in the last two rounds alone – and that effort isn’t good enough to match it with any team in the competition never mind the Roosters. You don’t have to be very far off your game to end up on the wrong end of a big score line but the Sea Eagles have looked a shadow of the side that sat third on the ladder after round 20. The talk from their players throughout the week has been around attitude and they will have to show a lot more commitment to topple the Roosters.
They trailed the Dragons 30-0 at half time and showed great desire to get back to 30-22 by the 55th minute but the comeback wasn’t to be with the Red V racking up 52 points in the end. They could have used injuries as an excuse for that performance but despite Apisai Koroisau and Blake Green returning against the Storm last week, they were completely outclassed again. Manly would’ve been embarrassed to concede another 40 points after only being 12-6 down at half time. This week, they will be without the suspended Addin Fonua-Blake, who is replaced by Lloyd Perrett on the bench while Shaun Lane replaces Lewis Brown in the starting side and Brad Parker takes Cameron Cullen’s spot on the bench.
As the Roosters showed following their heavy round 17 defeat, a big loss doesn’t mean so much in the modern game and a team’s fortunes can turn quickly. But with the state of Manly’s defence and confidence deteriorating, they will have to improve fast if they are to beat the in-form Roosters and maintain their spot in the top eight.
On the other hand, the Roosters haven’t been phased by the absence of Jake Friend, Michael Gordon and NSW captain Boyd Cordner over the last few weeks. They’ve continued putting in strong performances and now sit just two points behind the Storm in second place on the ladder. Friend has been named on an extended bench and pending a doctor’s clearance will replace impressive youngster Victor Radley in the starting side. Ryan Matterson has filled in admirably for Cordner around the Origin period, while Connor Watson is a very handy replacement for the ever reliable Gordon. The Roosters will be confident of heaping more misery on the Sea Eagles.
Manly have been susceptible all over the field in recent weeks but their edge defence has been particularly fragile. Luke Keary will be licking his lips at the prospect of targeting the Sea Eagles’ right edge, where they have conceded 23 tries so far this season. Dylan Walker’s missed tackle count is up to 70 so he and Akuila Uate can expect plenty of traffic coming their way. Keary has 14 try assists in 2017 and while he favours the left edge in attack, often linking brilliantly with Latrell Mitchell and Daniel Tupou, he may well look to swing around to the other side of the field to target Green and Brian Kelly, both of who have been very hesitant and suspect on their try line.
The Roosters will also know that Manly have conceded 17 tries from kicks this season so look for them to give Tupou and Blake Ferguson chances to climb high at the end of their attacking sets. They are a threat all across the park and will be willing and ready to test the Sea Eagles at every opportunity.
Considering how these teams have performed in the past two rounds it’s very hard to look past the Sydney Roosters in this one. But if there’s one thing Manly love doing, it’s having their backs against the wall and proving the doubters wrong. Their form at Lottoland hasn’t been the greatest over the last few seasons but they have won three home games in a row and like most teams, the Roosters don’t have a good record at the venue. I’m going for an upset in a tight clash, Manly by two points.
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