The Wests Tigers are out to keep their faint finals hopes alive as they take on the Manly Sea Eagles at Campbelltown Stadium on Thursday night.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Tigers had a great chance to draw within two points of the top eight last week but couldn’t get the job done against the struggling Dragons. It was a much improved performance from the Dragons but the Tigers will know they missed a big opportunity. They’re only a mathematical chance of making the finals but they know they need to be better this week.
The Sea Eagles looked well and truly in control of their match against the Titans last week, racing out to a 22-6 lead before Gold Coast produced a miraculous comeback to secure a 42-34 victory. The Titans ran in six unanswered tries in an extremely disappointing result in a worse season for the Sea Eagles.
Elijah Taylor is out with a corked thigh, with Matt Eisenhuth moving to lock and Chris Lawrence moves back into the starting side. Josh Aloiai and Alex Twal are added to the bench, with Jacob Liddle dropping to 18th man.
Jack Gosiewski replaces Frank Winterstein on the bench in the only change to the side.
The two sides last met back in Round 6, where the Tigers got the two points in a dominant 38-12 win, thanks to a brilliant display from Luke Brooks. If he can repeat that performance, the Tigers should be too good once again here.
The key for the Sea Eagles will be their defence, particularly on their goal line. After a hot start, they were abysmal as the Titans stormed home. They know they’re still a chance of finishing at the bottom of the ladder, a result which could come down to points difference so they will need a much improved defensive display against the Tigers.
For the Tigers, if their spine, highlighted by Brooks and Moses Mbye, are firing, they will be very hard to stop. They probably weren’t at their best last week but they should be able to create plenty of scoring opportunities against a poor Sea Eagles defence.
The match-up to keep an eye on will be between the halfbacks, Daly Cherry-Evans and Luke Brooks. After a strong start last week, Cherry-Evans went missing as the Titans mounted their comeback. Anything less than an 80-minute performance against a stout Tigers defence will not be good enough this week.
Brooks has enjoyed arguably his best season to date and should be confident knowing he lead his side to a big win in their last match against the Sea Eagles. If he can out play his opposite number, that will go a long way to winning this game.
After their defeat a week ago, the Sea Eagles have now conceded the most points (552) in the competition. The Tigers have conceded their third least (389) points.
Wests Tigers: 1 Moses Mbye, 2 David Nofoaluma, 3 Esan Marsters, 4 Mahe Fonua, 5 Kevin Naiqama, 6 Benji Marshall, 7 Luke Brooks, 8 Russell Packer, 9 Robbie Farah, 10 Ben Matulino, 11 Chris Lawrence, 12 Michael Chee-Kam, 13 Matthew Eisenhuth
Interchange: 14 Alex Twal, 15 Sauaso Sue, 16 Luke Garner, 17 Josh Aloiai
Reserves: 18 Jacob Liddle, 19 Robbie Rochow, 20 Tyson Gamble, 21 Malakai Watene-Zelezniak
Manly Sea Eagles: 1 Tom Trbojevic, 2 Jorge Taufua, 3 Moses Suli, 4 Brian Kelly, 5 Brad Parker, 6 Dylan Walker, 7 Daly Cherry-Evans, 8 Addin Fonua-Blake, 9 Manase Fainu, 10 Martin Taupau, 11 Joel Thompson, 12 Shaun Lane, 13 Jake Trbojevic
Interchange: 14 Trent Hodkinson, 15 Kelepi Tanginoa, 16 Jack Gosiewski, 17 Lloyd Perrett
Reserves: 18 Frank Winterstein, 19 Matthew Wright, 20 Tom Wright, 21 Toafofoa Sipley
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Thursday 23rd August
Venue: Campbelltown Stadium
Kick-off: 7:50pm AEDT
WHO WILL WIN?
The Tigers know anything less than a win would mean their season comes to a certain end. The Sea Eagles were awful as they surrendered a big lead last week, and with so many holes in their defence, the Tigers should be too strong.
Tigers by 12