The Sea Eagles will play at home for a second straight week, looking to build on only their second win at home in 2017 against Canberra as they take on the last placed Knights. The Knights will come of a drubbing at the hands of the Storm, and their disastrous season moves forward another week.
Last Time Out:
The Sea Eagles took on the Raiders at Lottoland on Sunday, a game in which the first matchup delivered a scintillating clash ending in drama. Manly opened the scoring through the great hands of Daly Cherry-Evans passing off to Dylan Walker, and continuously pinned the Raiders in their own end of the field. The Raiders though, though their right edge of Joey Leilua and Jordan Rapana, set up Blake Austin for an equaliser in the 17th minute. From there, fatigue plagued the Raiders chances to finish the half strongly and Manly ran two more tries in through Marty Taupau and Jorge Taufua. As well as that, Walker pounced on a loose ball to set up Cherry-Evans with a pin point kick, extending Manly’s advantage to 20-6 going into half time. The second half turned however, looking similar to Manly’s recent form at home, as Canberra came back and scored first in the 45th minute and brought the scores back to 20-12. More heroics from Jordan Rapana, as he burst through the middle, set up Canberra’s second of the half as they trimmed the lead to 2, with Manly struggling to find any consistency in their defence as well as possession of the ball. A last second penalty from Jarrod Crocker extended the game into extra time, where ‘cometh the hour cometh the man’, Daly Cherry-Evans sealed the win for the Sea Eagles 21-20. The game was a tale of two halves, with both sides will need to improve this coming weekend to produce more well-rounded performances.
The Knights travelled to Melbourne to take on the top of the table Storm, in a match that was quite easily already decided. Melbourne opened the scoring early with Suliasi Vunivalu in the second minute, and from there completely dominated the game on both sides of the ball. The Knights had no attack going whatsoever in the first half, and their only try came from Dane Gagai setting up Ken Sio on the right edge. Melbourne continued to score big in the first half with two more tries in the first 20 minutes through Josh Addo-Carr and Felise Kaufusi, and held a 16-6 advantage at the break. The Knights failed to keep much of the ball, with the Storm enjoying 67 percent of possession for the entre match. The Knights continued to be rattled by Melbourne’s defence, and many mistakes came about from that. The second half saw scoring for the Storm continue, with Billy Slater adding a try to his haul of two tries and two try assists for the game overall. Newcastle managed to score in the 69th minute through Lachlan Fitzgibbon, a consolation try that as later cancelled out by Cheyse Bair in the 79th minute, capping off a terrific night for the Storm who were missing their skipper. Finishing 40-12, Melbourne remained at the top of the ladder while Newcastle stayed at the bottom. The Knights once again were outplayed on both sides of the ball, and the end of the season cannot come soon enough for Newcastle.
Newcastle has a young and rising forward pack, led by Sione Mata’utia, and he will be met with the improved Curtis Sironen, both playing in the second row.
The Knights will not have Jamie Buhrer again this week, and will need to be inspired more so by the men from the front. Sione Mata’utia has captained the side already this year and been labelled as one of the best up and coming forwards in the game. The big issue for the Knights is mixing that young talent with experienced heads, which is impossible when you look at the side on paper making Mata’utia’s task that much tougher. Curtis Sironen opted out signing with the Tigers, and decided to join Manly for two years starting in 2017. His work with Wests went unnoticed and relatively unimpressive, but since moving north to the rich beaches Sironen has become a huge piece in Manly’s resurgence in 2017. Sironen is averaging the most runs of his career in terms of attack, as well as his best run metre average and tries scored in a season so far this year.
Manly will have the advantage across the entire field, so hopefully for them Sironen can be a huge factor in that dominance.
Newcastle once again will need a miracle to pull out a win. A full strength team seems hard to come by without their star half Trent Hodkinson and Gagai staying at fullback for another week, meaning his talents will be isolated out back. Manly will boast a far classier side, and need to play strong throughout the entire match. Making Ol’ Brooky a fortress again should be a huge priority for Barrett’s men. Sea Eagles by 12
Sea Eagles: 1. Matthew Wright 2. Jonathan Wright 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. Lloyd Perrett 16. Jackson Hastings 17. Addin Fonua-brake 18. Jarrad Kennedy 19. Shaun Lane 20. Cameron Cullen 21. Tom Trbojevic
Knights: 1. Dane Gagai 2. Ken Sio 3. Joe Wardle 4. Peter Mata’utia 5. Nathan Ross 6. Brock Lamb 7. Jaelen Feeney 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Danny Levi 10. Josh Starling 11. Sione Mata’utia 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 13. Mitchell Barnett 14. Luke Yates 15. Josh King 16. Tyler Randell 17. Jacob Saifiti 18. Brendan Elliott 19. Jacob Gagan 20. Trent Hodkinson 21. Pauli Paul