Andrew Pelechaty previews another blockbuster clash between Manly-Warringah and Melbourne at Lottoland.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Manly (14-8) bounced into the top four with a controversial 18-14 win in Canberra. Trailing 10-4 in the second half, an eight point intercept try to Reuben Garrick, and a late try to Jake Trbojevic, sealed the win. The Sea Eagles have now won five of their last six games and look a genuine top four threat, especially with South Sydney struggling.
Melbourne (18-4) rebounded from their shock loss to Canberra with a win over the lowly Gold Coast Titans. While it wasn’t the cricket score some expected, the 24-8 win was good enough, especially after trailing 8-6 at halftime, with Ryan Papenhuyzen, Dale Finucane, and Josh Addo-Carr scoring second half tries. Melbourne have a two-game lead over the second placed Sydney Roosters in the race to the minor premiership, so a win against either Manly or North Queensland (in round 25) is vital.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Brad Parker returns from a knee injury, Curtis Sironen and Jack Gosiewski are back in the second row, and Moses Suli is named despite being injured against Canberra.
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. Jack Gosiewski 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Manase Fainu 15. Corey Waddell 16. Morgan Boyle 17. Taniela Paseka 18. Lachlan Croker 19. Tevita Funa 20. Brad Parker 21. Lloyd Perrett.
Will Chambers is back, while Brodie Croft and Curtis Scott are listed on the reserves.
Melbourne Storm’s squad: 1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Will Chambers 4. Justin Olam 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane 14. Brandon Smith 15. Tino Faasuamaleaui 16. Max King 17. Tom Eisenhuth 18. Curtis Scott 19. Brodie Croft 20. Sandor Earl 21. Harry Grant.
HEAD TO HEAD
The last clash between these two was a contender for game of the year. Manly travelled to the almost impenetrable AAMI Park in round 19 and beat the Storm 11-10 in Golden Point. While Melbourne scored two tries (Will Chambers, Brandon Smith) to one (Joel Thompson), three goals to Reuben Garrick and an 89th minute field goal to Daly Cherry-Evans got Manly home. The battles have always been willing between these two: notably the 2007 and 2008 grand finals and the infamous 2011 ‘Battle of Brookvale’, with Manly winning the spiteful clash 18-4. Melbourne lead the head-to-head 19 to 15 with 1 draw.
Reuben Garrick v Josh Addo-Carr
The battle of the left wingers will be crucial. Garrick was a huge part of Manly’s win in Canberra, scoring the ultimately controversial eight point try and kicking five from five. Garrick has kicked over 50 goals this season, so – in what’s bound be tight game – a big day with the boot will be crucial.
Addo-Carr’s had a relatively quiet season by his high standards, with “only” 13 tries. As Melbourne get ready for another grand final push, Addo-Carr will want to add a few more tries in the next few weeks. Will he start adding to the tally on Sunday?
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Saturday August 31st.
WHO WILL WIN?
With recent losses to Manly and Canberra (both at home), Melbourne have shown they aren’t invincible, while Manly are building towards a top four spot. After a few quiet weeks, Melbourne will want to regroup to seal the minor premiership. That should be enough to squeak them home at Brookvale.
Melbourne by one.