The Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles are hosting the St George Illawarra Dragons at Lottoland as the first game of the triple header on Saturday afternoon, and it will be one of the games of the round. Both teams have had fantastic starts to the season and are looking to continue their form as they begin building up for the finals, although they are still a while away. Can Manly manage to make Lottoland their fortress this season?

Last Time Out

The Dragons had a field day during their match last Sunday where they strongly defeated the out-of-sorts Wests Tigers by twenty-two. They started strong, and finished without any problems. They completed at eighty-seven per cent and scored five tries over the Tigers’ one. Their error count is becoming less every match, as is their number of conceded penalties. They were the favourites in the match for obvious reasons, and they proved their strength as a growing football club. The Dragons’ stellar stand-in fullback Jason Nightingale had an absolute blinder, opening the scoring in the sixth minute and racking up a hat trick within the first half an hour of the match. The rest of the team. Their defence has noticeably improved a lot throughout the beginning of the season, which will make for quite an interesting year for them.

The Sea Eagles were the ones who destroyed the Roosters’ winning streak last Friday night when they beat the Roosters at Allianz Stadium eighteen points to twelve. It was a low scoring game, but was certainly entertaining to watch. It could have gone either way, but luckily for Manly it went theirs. Dylan Walker was instrumental in the win, scoring a double and kicking three goals from four attempts. Manly too walked away with a high completion rate, only failing to complete seven sets as opposed to the Roosters’ eleven. Daly Cherry-Evans once again proved himself to be the million dollar player that he is, after having to step up in recent weeks following some media scrutiny. Both the attack and defence of the Sea Eagles got the better of the Roosters, and they proved themselves worthy of their position on the ladder.

Key Battle

The halves. More specifically, Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans and Dragons’ five eighth Gareth Widdop. Throughout the season so far, both these players have been instrumental for their teams and the success they have so far seen. Their kicking games have been great, and their attack and defence has been of high importance. They show a lot of leadership on the field and are opening up the communication of their sides, which is significant to how the team is performing.

The match-up of the fullbacks Jason Nightingale and Tom Trbojevic is also important, and could make or break the game. Both players have been exceptional for their teams, especially Nightingale’s performance last week when he began his stand in for injured Josh Dugan.

The match will be interesting, given the ongoing improvements that are being made by both teams as the season progresses, and they look towards the back end of the year with finals footy on the line.

Prediction

The key battles in the spine, and the way in which both teams have opened this season will contribute to the outcome of this game. It will be an entertaining match at Lottoland, with both sides showing up in both attack and defence. Both the Dragons and the Sea Eagles will put on a performance, however I think Manly’s wishes to make Lottoland a fortress will give them the edge and ultimately the win on Saturday afternoon. Manly by 4+.

Squads

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles

  1. Tom Trbojevic
  2. Jorge Taufua
  3. Dylan Walker
  4. Brian Kelly
  5. Akuila Uate
  6. Blake Green
  7. Daly Cherry-Evans
  8. Brenton Lawrence
  9. Apisai Koroisau
  10. Martin Taupau
  11. Frank Winterstein
  12. Curtis Sironen
  13. Jake Trbojevic
  14. Lewis Brown
  15. Nate Myles
  16. Darcy Lussick
  17. Addin Fonua-Blake
  18. Jackson Hastings
  19. Matthew Wright
  20. Jarrad Kennedy
  21. Lloyd Perrett

St. George Illawarra Dragons

1. Jason Nightingale

2. Nene McDonald

3. Euan Aitken

4. Timoteo Lafai

5. Kurt Mann

6. Gareth Widdop

7. Josh McCrone

8. Russell Packer

9. Cameron McInnes

10. Paul Vaughan

11. Tyson Frizell

12. Joel Thompson

13. Jack de Belin

Interchange

14. Tariq Sims

15. Leeson Ah Mau

16. Hame Sele

17. Taane Milne

18. Blake Lawrie

19. Kalifa Faifai Loa

20. Luciano Leilua

21. Jacob Host