After their dismal performances in Round 19, both the Manly Sea Eagles and Penrith Panthers will be looking to bounce back when they meet at Lottoland on Saturday afternoon.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Manly Sea Eagles
After conceding 56 points against the Sydney Roosters in Round 19, the Manly Sea Eagles will be eager to snap their two-game losing streak and secure victory over the Penrith Panthers for the second time this season. Despite being too far adrift of the top eight to be playing come September, Manly will still be determined to utilise the talent within their roster to string some wins together and give their fans something to cheer about at the business end of the season.
Off the back of a whopping 50-18 loss against the Brisbane Broncos last week, the Penrith Panthers will be determined to restore their premiership credentials in this Round 20 clash. Depending on the results of the other matches, a victory on Saturday afternoon could elevate the boys from Penrith to as high as fifth place on the NRL ladder and give them a real chance to push their way past the Cronulla Sharks and Sydney Roosters to regain their spot in the top four.
Manly Sea Eagles
The return of five-eighth Dylan Walker (knee) and winger Jorge Taufua has prompted coach Trent Barrett to omit both Tom Wright (five-eighth) and Matthew Wright (wing) to the reserves list. Shaun Lane has been promoted to the starting side, forcing Frank Winterstein to the interchange bench. In further changes, Kelepi Tanginoa has been recalled into the 17 at the expense of Toafofoa Sipley.
The Penrith Panthers have made a host of changes to their line up for Saturday afternoon’s clash. The return of Dallin Watene-Zelezniak from a hamstring injury has forced winger Christian Crichton to the reserves. Injured fullback Jarome Luai (ankle) has been replaced by Tyrone Peachey, with Tyrone May resultantly earning a recall to the interchange bench. Corey Harawira-Naera has been elevated into the starting side in a reshuffle that shifts James Fisher-Harris to prop, Isaah Yeo to lock and Trent Merrin to the interchange bench.
Whilst Manly has not been as successful during the 2018 season as many had hoped, they have the opportunity to put a serious dent in the confidence and finals hopes of the sixth-placed Panthers. Despite completing at a strong 88% in last week’s match against the Broncos, it was their lack of effort in defence that saw them come undone. For Manly to cause an upset against the Panthers, it is vital every player in the 17 is willing to put their body on the line and successfully complete their tackles to ensure that they give the Panthers no advantage. In terms of their attack, middle men Addin Fonua-Blake and Martin Taupau will be an integral part of Manly’s go-forward. For their spine, in Trbojevic, Walker, Cherry-Evans and Fainu, to have any chance at challenging and exposing the Panthers’ edge defence, their big forward pack must make it their intent to dominate and charge down the middle of the field.
This clash against Manly is vital in the context of the Panthers’ season. Despite looking ominous in attack in the second half against the Broncos in Round 19, it will be the 40 missed tackles and 12 errors that is driving them this week. Against a Manly side that is equipped with so many speedsters, it is imperative that Anthony Griffin’s men return to the defence they were renowned for prior to the origin period. James Fisher-Harris and Isaah Yeo’s relentless work ethic will be instrumental in setting this defensive foundation. From an attacking perspective, halves James Maloney and Nathan Cleary are the key to ensuring that the Panthers regain the energy that they showed against the Warriors in Round 17. A clever running game and deft kicking from the halves will be instrumental in orchestrating their attack and creating opportunities from which they can expose Manly’s defence.
The Manly Sea Eagles haven’t beaten the Penrith Panthers twice in a season since 2011.
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 (c), 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 Frank Winterstein, 17 Taniela Pasaka. Reserves: 18 Matthew Wright, 20 Jack Gosiewski, 21 Toafofoa Sipley, 22 Lloyd Perrett.
Penrith Panthers: 1 Tyrone Peachey, 2 Josh Mansour, 3 Waqa Blake, 4 Dean Whare, 5 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 6 James Maloney (c), 7 Nathan Cleary, 8 James Fisher-Harris, 9 Sione Katoa, 10 James Tamou, 11 Viliame Kikau, 12 Corey Harawira-Naera, 13 Isaah Yeo. Interchange: 14 Tyrone May, 15 Trent Merrin, 16 Jack Hetherington, 17 Moses Leota. Reserves: 18 Kaide Ellis, 19 Wayde Egan, 20 Christian Crichton, 21 Liam Martin.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Saturday, July 28 2018
Kick-off: 3:00pm (AEST)
WHO WILL WIN?
Despite both teams coming off the back of substandard performances last week, expect the Panthers to regain their confidence and secure victory to keep their premiership aspirations intact.
Panthers by 10