Andrew Pelechaty previews the big Sunday afternoon clash between Canberra and Manly-Warringah.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Another week, another massive top four clash for Canberra (14-7). The Raiders stunned everyone with a comeback win in Melbourne last Saturday night. Trailing 18-0 after half-an-hour, it looked it like a long night for Canberra, sparking more criticism of their top four credentials. Instead, they turned it around with 22 straight points, including a double to captain Jarrod Croker and tries to Jordan Rapana (who had a spectacular first half try taken off him) and the game winner from Josh Papalii. Not only did it all but seal Canberra’s top four spot, but it showed they deserve to be taken seriously. Canberra will be looking to win again at GIO Stadium after a last start loss to the Roosters two weeks ago.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Manly (13-8) entered the top four with their fourth win in five games (helped by South Sydney’s loss to Canterbury). Rebounding from the shock loss to the Warriors, Manly returned to Brookvale and comfortably beat the Wests Tigers 32-12. Jack Gosiewski scored two first half tries as they led 18-6 at halftime. Manly went on with it in the second half, with tries to Dylan Walker, Jorge Taufua, Moses Suli and Addin Fonua-Blake.
Joe Tapine is out for two weeks with a rib injury, replaced at lock by Ryan Sutton. Hudson Young joins the bench.
Canberra Raiders’ squad: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Joey Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Jack Wighton 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Josh Papalii 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Sia Soliola 11. John Bateman 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Ryan Sutton 14. Bailey Simonsson 15. Dunamis Lui 16. Corey Horsburgh 17. Hudson Young 18. Sam Williams 19. Siliva Havili 20. Emre Guler 21. Michael Oldfield.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
No changes for Manly-Warringah. Curtis Sironen (hamstring) and Brad Parker (knee) are still sidelined.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles’ squad: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Brendan Elliot 4. Moses Suli 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Dylan Walker 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Martin Taupau 11. Joel Thompson 12. Jack Gosiewski 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Manase Fainu 15. Corey Waddell 16. Morgan Boyle 17. Taniela Paseka 18. Lachlan Croker 19. Tevita Funa 20. Cade Cust 21. Lloyd Perrett
HEAD TO HEAD
Recent contents between the Raiders and Sea Eagles have been tight. While Manly beat Canberra 32-16 on Easter Saturday in 2018 (though the scoreline flattered Canberra), the Raiders rebounded at Bruce with a 21-20 win in round 12, with an Aidan Sezer field goal sealing the win in the 79th minute. This year, Manly won 24-20 at Brookvale after Canberra led 12-0 in as many minutes. Manly have a habit of getting under Canberra’s skin, so these contests are always willing.
Aidan Sezer vs Daly Cherry-Evans
A big battle of the halfbacks. Sezer, who took a while to regain his place from the now out-of-favour Sam Williams, has combined well with fledgling five-eighth Jack Wighton. While Sezer has struggled at times, he’s won nine out of his twelve games to keep Canberra in the top four, and will be a vital part if Canberra are to push deep into the finals.
Cherry-Evans, the Manly and Queensland captain, has led his Sea Eagles to a top four spot which, with South Sydney fading, they look likely to keep. DCE has enjoyed a decent strike rate, with eleven wins from sixteen starts. He’s grown as captain and become a vital part of Manly’s premiership hopes.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Sunday 25th August, 2019.
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra.
WHO WILL WIN?
While the win over Melbourne gave Canberra some top four insurance, they’ll want to avoid a letdown against Manly, who are the Raiders’ closest threat. It’ll be another fiery game, but expect Canberra to squeeze home.
Canberra by four.