One of the biggest modern rugby league rivalries returns for another fiery battle, with the Manly Sea Eagles hosting Melbourne Storm at Lottoland on Saturday Night.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Sea Eagles were enjoying a must needed bye in the previous round. In their last start against a strong Panthers outfit in Penrith Manly was able to cause a huge upset in an error-filled and dower match, winning 18-10.
In their last round game with many players for both outfits out for Origin, the Storm was able to finish strong against Dragons in a game holding 14 tries for Melbourne to win 52-30.
Manly have named an unchanged 17 from their side who won against Penrith in round 16. Both Trbojevic brothers and captain Daly Cherry-Evans have been named to back up from Origin. Manase Fainu has also been named despite police charges held over him.
Billy Slater, Will Chambers, Josh Addo-Carr, Cameron Munster, Felise Kaufusi and Tim Glasby return from Origin. Jahrome Hughes moves to halfback. Prop Jesse Bromwich also returns from a hamstring injury to push Christian Welch to the bench. Cheyse Blair, Young Tonumaipea, Ryley Jacks, Brodie Croft, Tui Kamikamica and Albert Vete all drop to the reserves and Patrick Kaufusi is out of the squad.
This showdown has all the ingredients of another classic match between these two rivalling sides. In their last meeting at AAMI Park during round 11 it was the most heated meeting of the season with both teams being a part of four sin bins and a send-off. It was only Manly’s 2nd win at the ground ever and now this rivalry returns to the northern beaches for the Sea Eagles to face their nemesis out to inflict more damage to the Storms season.
Coming off the origin before this round the fixture will have many players wanting to back up with a stellar performance. The Origin flavour to this clash can’t be stressed enough with 8 players overall looking to put in for their respective clubs after game 3. The biggest key matchup will be with a master and apprentice feel being at the forefront having Billy Slater returning to Storm after his last game for Queensland and going on to face the shining light in the Blues series win with Manly’s fullback Tom Trbojevic.
Slater in what was his last Origin game is now tasked with backing up against their rival in the Sea Eagles. The focus will be on producing another stellar performance as he had in the game 3 origin, the Storm fullback having over 145 run metres will need to contribute to the Melbourne attack with a new halves pairing forming for the club in Munster and Jahrome Hughes. Fatigue will be a big part of this match for Billy coming off such an emotional and brutal fixture, the champion number one will need to take advantage of the Sea Eagles struggles in defence and create opportunities in the attack for Storm to collect a win away.
After a game that doesn’t mean too much for Origin the quality of performance that Manly’s fullback Tom Trbojevic produced could have nearly won the match single handily for the Blues. Now with his debut Origin series won and over the star fullback will have to come up against Slater and other Storm rep players once again, putting in a huge effort for state and finding the motivation won’t be hard for such an occasion. Turbo will like to replicate his Origin endeavours in which he caused an intercept try at a crucial moment while also running in 18 hit-ups for 250 metres, this is what will be required once again if Manly is a chance of another huge upset against last years premiers. Reading Slaters crafty sweeping plays out the back for Melbourne, Turbo will need to be as perfect in defence as in attack, not allowing cheap tries for Storm to gain momentum.
Manly will host Melbourne at Lottoland and mark the 10 year anniversary of their 40-0 Grand Final win over the Storm in 2008.
Sea Eagles: 1 Tom Trbojevic, 2 Matthew Wright, 3 Moses Suli, 4 Brian Kelly, 5 Bradley Parker, 6 Dylan Walker, 7 Daly Cherry-Evans (c), 8 Addin Fonua-Blake, 9 Manase Fainu, 10 Martin Taupau, 11 Joel Thompson, 12 Shaun Lane, 1 13 Jake Trbojevic
Interchange: 14 Trent Hodkinson, 15 Kelepi Tanginoa, 16 Frank Winterstein, 17 Taniela Paseka
Storm: 1 Billy Slater, 2 Suliasi Vunivalu, 3 Will Chambers, 4 Curtis Scott, 5 Josh Addo-Carr, 6 Cameron Munster, 7 Jahrome Hughes, 8 Jesse Bromwich, 9 Cameron Smith (c), 10 Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 11 Felise Kaufusi, 12 Ryan Hoffman, 13 Kenny Bromwich
Interchange: 14 Brandon Smith, 15 Tim Glasby, 16 Christian Welch, 17, Joe Stimson
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Saturday 14th July
Kick-off: 5:30 pm
Referee: Chris Sutton
WHO WILL WIN?
The fierce rivalry of these passionate clubs will come into fruition with another blockbuster on the cards with the spotlight on those returning from the State of Origin. Melbourne have many changes as well as 6 players who were featured in Origin, so a huge effort from the Storm even though Manly’s season has been over for some time will be needed. Manly have their three key men also backing up in the Trbojevic Brothers fresh off a series win high and also arguably the gamechanger for the Maroons in the Sea Eagles captain Cherry-Evans, the form of these players should stream into their club form now but be having such a short turnaround they will need to fight fatigue and play even better. It could be another classic between Manly and Melbourne with so many players having to return for the Storm in addition to a newly formed halves combination at a formidable ground, all while the Sea Eagles celebrate their 2008 Grand Final win after a decade. The upset is definitely on the cards. Prediction: Manly by 2