The Manly Sea Eagles will take a home game to Perth on Saturday, when they host the New Zealand Warriors at NIB Stadium. Both sides should be fresh following a bye weekend last round, however the time difference between New Zealand and Perth always spells danger for the Warriors side, who are yet to taste victory in the Western state, despite having seven attempts.
LAST TIME OUT
While both sides are coming off a bye round, their previous NRL clashes in round 17 saw the two clubs post commanding wins.
The pressure has particularly been on Manly, who are languishing in 13 position on the NRL ladder, as opposed to their opponents who are sitting pretty in 7th.
The Manly side have only won one of their last eight games, however they do have a great record against the New Zealand side, claiming 10 out of the past 11 clashes between the two teams. They will have been further buoyed by their thrashing of the Dragons in round 17, where they won 36-6 to show that they care still a threat on their day.
The Warriors last clash was against the Titans, a fixture they claimed 27-18 in a positive performance. This fixture has proved problematic in the last few seasons for the Warriors however, who seem to struggle with games that are basically being played at mid night in New Zealand time.
Daley Cherry Evans vs Shaun Johnson
The Manly half back last year signed a massive deal with the club, which saw the Sea Eagles no chance of keeping other star half Kieran Foran. So far it is a move the club will not be sure has paid off, with DCE not able to lift the Manly side towards Finals football in 2016. DCE has managed just three tries and six try assists this season, as opposed to his opposite number Johnson, who has 11 try assists along with nine tries. DCE will need to lift his attacking game if the Manly side are to upset the Warriors this week. You can almost guarantee Johnson will take his opportunities at the other end.
The Forward battle
The New Zealand side has long been credited for having big forwards that are hard to handle up the middle of the field. This has instead been a weakness in their game in 2016, with the club making 24079 metres in total in the first 19 rounds of the comp, landing them in 11th in all run metres for the year. While they haven’t been performing here, Manly has struggled even more, making a combined total of 24021 metres. The team that can fix up their yardage game will go along way to winning the encounter.
The battle in the West has been a major issue for the Warriors sides, and it is hard to see them fixing the problem, even against a Manly side that is struggling in 2016. The fact their is a 6 hour time difference between Auckland and Perth means the New Zealand side are basically playing at moidnight, giving an unfair advantage to the teams that host them there. It has proven so in the past, with the New Zealand side often fading in the second half of the clashes in the Western state. While form screams for the Warriors, the history at the ground highlights a clear issue. Both sides have struggled to make metres this year and a jet lagged Warriors pack should continue that trend. Combined with the high Manly would be riding after disposing of the Dragons, , it looks like the Perth hoodoo could continue for the New Zealand side.
Manly by 10
Sea Eagles: 1 Tom Trbojevic 2 Jorge Taufua 3 Lewis Brown 4 Matthew Wright 5 Bradley Parker 6 Jamie Lyon 7 Daly Cherry-Evans 8 Darcy Lussick 9 Apisai Koroisau 10 Martin Taupau 11 Nathan Green 12 Jamie Buhrer 13 Jake Trbojevic Interchange: 14 Blake Leary 15 Joshua Starling 16 Addin Fonua-Blake 17 Siosia Vave 18 Luke Burgess
Warriors: 1 David Fusitu’a, 2 Ken Maumalo, 3 Blake Ayshford, 4 Solomone Kata, 5 Manu Vatuvei, 6 Thomas Leuluai, 7 Shaun Johnson, 8 Jacob Lillyman, 9 Issac Luke, 10 Ben Matulino, 11 Bodene Thompson, 12 Ryan Hoffman (c), 13 Simon Mannering. Interchange: 14 Tuimoala Lolohea, 15 Sam Lisone, 16 Bunty Afoa, 17 Charlie Gubb, 18 James Gavet