Manly and North Queensland open NRL round 13 (the first split round before Origin) on Thursday night at Brookvale Oval (Lottoland).
TEAM FORM GUIDE
After vital wins against Brisbane (38-24 at Lang Park) and Melbourne (24-4 at AAMI Park), Manly’s momentum halted at Bruce Stadium last Friday night. Trailing 14-2 after 20 minutes (Daly Cherry-Evans and Joel Thompson tries), Canberra came back to win 21-20 with an Aiden Sezer field goal. It kept Manly in 12th with a 4-8 record.
A week after the devastating loss to Souths, North Queensland desperately needed to win the grand final rematch in Townsville last Friday night. Trailing 4-0 at halftime (and 6-0 early in the second half), a Kyle Feldt try and Johnathan Thurston conversion tied the scores. Cameron Munster’s 72nd minute field goal won it 7-6 for Melbourne. The Cowboys – last year’s fairytale team – are second last with a 3-9 record and almost ready to book a September holiday.
The Trbojevic brothers are called up to NSW Origin duty. Additions are Apisai Koroisau (hooker), Bradley Parker, Jack Gosiewski (interchange), Thomas Wright, Jonathan Wright, Tevita Funa (reserves).
North Queensland are missing Coen Hess, Michael Morgan and Gavin Cooper to Queensland. Incomings are Lachlan Coote (fullback), Ethan Lowe (second row), Sam Hoare (interchange), Kane Linnett, Jake Clifford, Mitchell Dunn, Javid Bowen (reserves).
Manly and North Queensland met once last year – in round three – and it was a surprise result in Townsville. While most expected the undefeated Cowboys to destroy the winless Manly, the Sea Eagles won 30-8. Jorge Taufua, Tom Trbojevic, Brenton Lawrence and Jackson Hastings scored tries, while Dylan Walker kicked seven from seven.
Once Queensland Origin teammates, respective captains – and halfbacks – Cherry-Evans (Manly) and Thurston (North Queensland) will be key. Cherry-Evans will be motivated after missing Origin selection, which should give Manly a big advantage.
It’s been tight between Manly and North Queensland, with Manly ahead 14-12 since 1998. That includes Manly’s controversial 2012 semi-final win.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles: 1 Matthew Wright, 2 Jorge Taufua, 3 Moses Suli, 4 Brian Kelly, 5 Akuila Uate, 6 Trent Hodkinson, 7 Daly Cherry-Evans (c), 8 Addin Fonua-Blake, 9 Apisai Koroisau, 10 Martin Taupau, 11 Joel Thompson, 12 Frank Winterstein, 13 Shaun Lane
Interchange: 14 Bradley Parker, 15 Jack Gosiewski, 16 Lloyd Perrett, 17 Toafofoa Sipley
Reserves: 18 Thomas Wright, 19 Lewis Brown, 20 Jonathan Wright, 21 Tevita Funa
North Queensland Cowboys: 1 Lachlan Coote, 2 Kyle Feldt, 3 Justin O’Neill, 4 Enari Tuala, 5 Antonio Winterstein, 6 Te Maire Martin, 7 Johnathan Thurston (c), 8 Matthew Scott (c), 9 Jake Granville, 10 Scott Bolton, 11 Shaun Fensom, 12 Ethan Lowe, 13 Jason Taumalolo
Interchange: 14 Ben Hampton, 15 Sam Hoare, 16 Corey Jensen, 17 Francis Molo
Reserves: 18 Kane Linnett, 19 Jake Clifford, 20 Mitchell Dunn, 21 Javid Bowen
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Thursday May 31st
Venue: Lottoland (Brookvale Oval)
WHO WILL WIN?
A crucial game, with Manly playing at home (with a decent 3-2 record) and in recent winning form. Despite losing the Trbojevic’s, Manly should do enough against a Cowboys teams down in confidence and with a horrendous 1-4 away record.
Manly by 10.