From looking like Top 4 contenders to being a genuine chance of missing the Top 8, the Sea Eagles will be desperate to get out of the hole they’ve dug themselves into. They’ll have to start with a Roosters side who will be out to cement a spot in the Top 2.

Last Time Out

The Sea Eagles were trounced 40-6 by the Storm as they traditionally lifted for a milestone game with Cameron Smith’s 350th. They were completely outplayed and their defence was absolutely atrocious. They missed 63 tackles for the game as they fell off every attacking player coming their way. The loss saw their points differential slide to the 2nd worst in the Top 8 and their finals chances suddenly don’t seem so certain.

The Roosters had to do it tough as they came from behind to beat the Cowboys 22-16. Down by 10 points at half-time with a contentious officiating decision gifting the Cowboys a 50/50 try, the Roosters received a little luck of their own in the 2nd half as a big penalty count in their favour gave them good field position. Sio Taukeiaho had one of his career best performances off the bench while 2nd gamer Victor Radley played the full 80 minutes despite suffering a hand injury 10 minutes into the contest.

Key Battle

The forwards. In last week’s game the difference between the two packs and what they were able to produce for their team, told the story.

Against the Storm, only Marty Taupau was able to run for more than 100m. By contrast the Roosters had 5 of their forwards cross the 100m mark. It’s hard to rack up the metres when your side is getting thrashed but it’s an indication their forwards were losing the battle in the middle and badly.

The only way the Sea Eagles can bounce back and get back in winning form is if their forwards can get them moving up field and stop the Roosters pack from gaining momentum.

Prediction

Manly have been in truly dreadful form lately. Their most recent win an unconvincing one against the lowly Wests Tigers and have leaked 92 points in their last two games while the Roosters have secured a convincing win over a spirited Knights team and a comeback win over a Cowboys team that had won 4 straight games.

If Manly can rediscover their form of a few months ago then they’re in with a good chance of beating the Roosters. Otherwise it’s hard to see the Roosters losing this one if their forwards play like the way they did against the Cowboys. The potential return of Jake Friend would give their side a massive boost as well. Roosters by 8+

Squads
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
1 Tom Trbojevic
2 Matthew 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 Shaun Lane
13 Jake Trbojevic
Interchange:
14 Lewis Brown
15 Brad Parker
16 Darcy Lussick
17 Lloyd Perrett
Reserves:
18 Jarrad Kennedy
19 Cameron Cullen
20 Jonathan Wright
21 Kelepi Tanginoa

Sydney Roosters
1 Connor Watson
2 Daniel Tupou
3 Latrell Mitchell
4 Joseph Manu
5 Blake Ferguson
6 Luke Keary
7 Mitchell Pearce
8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves ©
9 Victor Radley
10 Dylan Napa
11 Ryan Matterson
12 Mitchell Aubusson ©
13 Isaac Liu
Interchange:
14 Zane Tetevano
15 Sio Siua Taukeiaho
16 Aidan Guerra
17 Mitchell Cornish
Reserves:
18 Kane Evans
19 Jake Friend
20 Chris Smith
21 Nat Butcher