The Wests Tigers will return to Leichhardt Oval this Sunday afternoon for an intriguing clash against the Manly Sea Eagles. Only having played just under a month prior these two sides will come into this fixture wanting to build on their form in previous rounds and finish the season with consecutive wins.

LAST TIME OUT

The Tigers were tasked with heading to Pepper Stadium last round to go up against a Panthers side having won four straight prior. The encounter was a tight match and went into the half time break 10-8 with the Tigers getting David Nofoaluma’s second try on the buzzer to make it a 2 point split. By the 70th minute the score line was still close at 16-14 as the home side could not seem to shake the consistent effort shown by the Tigers, however with 6 minutes left in the game a line break from young gun Corey Harawira found his winger Dallin Watene Zelezniak to grab his second try in the corner. The panthers would then finish the game off with another converted four-pointer to clinch the game 28-14.

The Sea Eagles were host to the 2nd place Sydney Roosters in a crucial match which would impact the entire top 8. The past fortnight for the Manly side had been horrific and raids from the Roosters down their strong left side combinations found 3 tries in the opening 30 minutes. It looked as if the Sea Eagles last two games were about to repeat itself until fullback Tom Trbojevic broke through before the half with a needed four-pointer. The home side rallied after the break compiling a tough and clinical comeback lead by their Captain Daly Cherry-Evans and Trbojevic. Sea Eagles found their attacking prowess once again in front of their home fans ending the match with 32 unanswered points after the early scare by the away team. The Manly Sea Eagles come-from-behind win finished  36-18 giving the Roosters season a reality check before playing premiership favourites Melbourne Storm and giving the Sea Eagles a chance to set up their last 4 games with wins while cementing their top 8 position.

KEY BATTLE

The Tigers returning to their Balmain home at Leichhardt Oval against the Sea Eagles will set for a heated Sunday afternoon classic. Wests Tigers are desperately trying to get as many wins as possible so that they won’t be close to receiving the wooden spoon while on the other side Manly are trying to climb higher in the top 8 in hopes of returning to the top 4 in time for finals. The key battle come this fixture is a matchup between the fullbacks James Tedesco and Tom Trbojevic both playing at their best inside the back end of the season.

The Tigers this year have been disappointing but in the last few rounds they have played better even with result not going their way they have gone to another level and most of it can come down to the form of departing fullback James Tedesco. Although not being at their best this year Tedesco has brought some great performances in the premiership and also State of Origin. The bunker curse has been upon the star being disallowed up to nine times with tries this season but it hasn’t stopped James impacting games averaging 7 tackle breaks and throwing 27 offloads. The Wests fullback coming into this match will be asked to be around the ball as much as possible injecting himself with tackle breaks while stopping as many repeat sets as Manly have the best forced line dropouts in the competition.

Manly Sea Eagles have been a surprising team this year with many thinking they would not be where they are, a lot of that has to do with their rising fullback Tom Trbojevic playing as well as he is. The 20 year old in his first full season in the position has gone to another level with higher representive honours at his feet Trbojevic has averaged 180 run metres and 5 tackle breaks a match, which for such a young player is tremendous. The Manly fullback has been a stable presence out in the backline breaking open games and providing his halves with 14 try assists and 10 tries to himself. Tom will have to provide a stellar performance once again away from home to get his side over the line against a menacing Tigers outfit.

PREDICTION

This Sunday afternoon clash will provide for an insight into the two sides, the Manly Sea Eagles wanting to climb the top 8 and post back to back wins while the Wests side have an opportunity to show their Leichhardt fans that they have improved in the back end of the season. A Tigers team looking hungry with Tedesco and Aaron Woods leaving at the end of this year will be confident they can play one of their best last games for the joint venture. Manly have a point to prove with having won against the second placed Roosters at home with a huge comeback, they are hopeful they can back up that performance with a strong win away and continue up the premiership ladder. The Sea Eagles confidence and passion to build momentum will drive the team to get a convincing win and continue their great away from home record this season.

Manly by 12

SQUADS

Wests Tigers v Manly Sea Eagles, Sunday 13th August, 4pm at Leichhardt Oval.

Tigers:  1. James Tedesco 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Esan Marsters 4. Kevin Naiqama 5. Malakai Watene Zelezniak 6. Tuimoala Lolohea 7. Luke Brooks 8. Aaron Woods (c) 9. Matt McIlwrick 10. Tim Grant 11. Chris Lawrence 12. Elijah Taylor 13. Matthew Eisenhuth 14. Alex Twal 15. Sauaso Sue 16. Michael Chee-Kam 17. Jack Littlejohn 18. Josh Aloiai 19. JJ Felise 20. Joel Edwards 21. Ava Seumanufagai

Sea Eagles: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Matthew Wright 3. Dylan Walker 4. Brad Parker 5. Akuila Uate 6. Blake Green 7. Daly Cherry-Evans (c) 8. Brenton Lawrence 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Martin Taupau 11. Frank Winterstein 12. Shaun Lane 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Lewis Brown 15. Lloyd Perrett 16. Darcy Lussick 17. Addin Fonua-Blake 18. Brian Kelly 19. Cameron Cullen 20. Jonathan Wright 21. Jarrad Kennedy