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NRL PREVIEW: Penrith Panthers vs Manly Sea Eagles

The standalone Sunday game in round 13 will feature an injury ravaged Manly Sea Eagles without Daly Cherry-Evans and Jamie Lyon face the Penrith Panthers who have axed Jamie Soward after their biggest loss of the season in Melbourne last Saturday.

LAST TIME OUT

Manly Sea Eagles traveled down to the Nation’s Capital last Friday night to take on Canberra Raiders who were coming off possibly a season-defining win over Canterbury Bulldogs.  The lead-up was horrendous with Manly the centre of match fixing allegations where two games and up to six players were involved.  The club to co-operate with the authorities.  On field things didn’t get much better as player after player went down making their bench look more like a casualty ward as experts and fans alike pondered whether a fifth bench player should be introduced.  Daly Cherry-Evans, Jamie Lyon and Brenton Lawrence all suffered differing injuries which will keep them out of this weekend’s clash with Penrith.  Jamie Burher was steamrolled by Junior Paulo and went off the field under the concussion test.  At 30-6 and with 25 minutes remaining, Canberra went from great to not so as Manly showed plenty of resolve in fighting back to 30-18.

Penrith also were on the road as they went down to AAMI Park to take on Melbourne Storm.  Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith weren’t named originally in Craig Bellamy’s squad, but took their place in the side.  Matt Moylan and Josh Mansour backed up after making their debuts for New South Wales.  Nathan Cleary, son of former Panthers coach Ivan made his debut in the NRL at eighteen years of age.  Early on Penrith took the lead with Mansour scoring in the corner.  But once Jesse Bromwich went over after eighteen minutes, the Storm dominated to lead 16-6 at the break.  It was a second half where Penrith failed to capitalise on Storm errors inside their red zone.  Cooper Cronk’s try one minute from time gave Melbourne victory 24-6, but the defensive effort of Penrith’s compared to previous matches against the Storm is to be commended.

KEY BATTLES

The second row battle will be interesting with former Panther Lewis Brown pairing with Jamie Buhrer to face up against Isaah Yeo and Trent Merrin.  Brown is a talented, hardworking utility like player who will be looking to play down the edges and do what Melbourne were so good in the first half against Penrith.  Buhrer is as tough as nails and will play above his weight.  Merrin still seeks to be an eighty minute player with Penrith and while he hasn’t been outstanding each week for his club to date, the effort can’t be underestimated.  Yeo had a solid game in Melbourne last week despite being forced into the centres when Waqa Blake was off under the concussion test.  Yeo might end up becoming like Trent Waterhouse, a solid back rower with ball playing skills.

It goes without saying that Brett Stewart and Matt Moylan will have a good battle from fullback.  Stewart is the try-scoring king at Brookvale but hasn’t quite been at his best this year with a slow recovery after that hamstring injury.  He’ll be looking for an improved performance this week.  Matt Moylan will be keen to stay in front of James Tedesco as fullback for New South Wales with the second match in Brisbane coming up soon.  Moylan has been working hard at his game, playing in the line when attacking especially out of dummy half.   He is developing into a versatile fullback and the future is bright for the young captain who will make only his 59th NRL appearance on Sunday.

PREDICTION

With two pretty inexperience halves pairings it will come down to some individual brilliance from the outside backs for this game to be decided.  Tom Trbojevic, Tyrone Peachey, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Matt Moylan will be the players likely to determine the result.  Penrith based on their season and Manly’s key players on the injury list, deserve to be favourites and should go on to win this one.

Panthers by 12

SQUADS

Sea Eagles: 1 Brett Stewart 2 Jorge Taufua 3 Tom Trbojevic 4 Brayden Wiliame 5 Matthew Wright 6 Dylan Walker 7 Apisai Koroisau 8 Darcy Lussick 9 Matt Parcell 10 Nate Myles 11. Lewis Brown 12 Jamie Buhrer 13 Jake Trbojevic. Interchange: 14 Blake Leary 15 Josh Starling 16 Addin Fonua-Blake 17 Siosaia Vave 18 Liam Knight

Panthers: 1 Matthew Moylan 2 Joshua Mansour 3 Waqa Blake 4 Tyrone Peachey 5 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 6 Bryce Cartwright 7 Nathan Cleary 8 Leilani Latu 9 Peter Wallace 10 Reagan Campbell-Gillard 11 Isaah Yeo 12 Trent Merrin 13 Suaia Matagi. Interchange: 14 Sitaleki Akauola 15 Jeremy Latimore 16 Christopher Grevsmuhl 17 Moses Leota

Kickoff: Sunday, 4pm

Venue: Brookvale Oval

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