Date: Friday 14th March
Manly Sea Eagles: Peta Hiku, Cheyse Blair, Jamie Lyon (c), Steve Matai, David Williams, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Josh Starling, Matt Ballin, Brenton Lawrence, Anthony Watmough, Justin Horo, Glenn Stewart. Interchange: James Hasson, Dunamis Lui, Jamie Buhrer, Jason King, Jesse Sene-Lefao
South Sydney Rabbitohs: Greg Inglis, Nathan Merritt, Beau Champion, Bryson Goodwin, Lote Tuqiri, Dylan Walker, Adam Reynolds, George Burgess, Issac Luke, Sam Burgess, Chris McQueen, Ben Te’o, John Sutton (c). Interchange: Ben Lowe, Joe Picker, David Tyrrell, Luke Burgess, Joel Reddy, Kyle Turner
This mouth watering clash between two of the competitions’ great clubs is a replay of last years’ preliminary finals match, which saw the Bunnies fall to Manly 30-20.
The Rabbitohs were favourites in that clash, and deserve to be once again, despite that previous result.
While Manly claim home advantage, the game is moved away from Brookvale to Bluetounge Stadium on the central coast.
Just one round in to 2014, it seems both teams have relatively good form; the Rabbitohs walloped the defending premiers, the Roosters 28-8 last week, while Manly went down in golden point to Melbourne, 23-22.
The loss of Brett Stewart is a massive blow for Manly. The Sea Eagles fullback adds starch in both attack and last man defence but his replacement Peta Hiku is a wonderful youngster, and has impressed in his limited appearances.
His opposite, Greg Inglis is coming off a three try performance and will be very hard to stop, as usual.
In the modern game, the role of fullback is pivotal to the attack of teams, adding an extra man in attacking raids by popping up in support whether as a decoy, or by running through defensive gaps.
And while the Manly side is able to add the experience of David Williams and the strength of Jason King back to their side, the loss of Stewart will prove too much.
South Sydney by 10
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