Andrew Pelechaty previews the Sunday afternoon clash between Melbourne and Manly on the Sunshine Coast. This is what we have to look forward to.
While Melbourne (12-3) are in second place, injuries are starting to hit them, with Brandon Smith breaking his jaw in their 14-0 loss to Parramatta. The loss had consequences too: not only did it give Penrith a three-point lead in first place, but Melbourne will probably play Parramatta again in the second vs third qualifying final. There is some good news: they return to their temporary home at Sunshine Coast Stadium (where they’ve won three straight games), and welcome back Cameron Munster and Cameron Smith.
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
Manly lost their fourth straight game on Saturday night, belted 56-16 by Souths (and trailing 38-0 at halftime). With a 6-9 record, Manly are two wins outside the top eight with a nasty -90 points differential. They have a decent run home (Wests Tigers, Canterbury-Bankstown, Gold Coast, NZ Warriors), so a win against Melbourne could help them build momentum and possibly sneak into the finals.
1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Marion Seve 3. Brenko Lee 4. Justin Olam 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Christian Welch 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Tom Eisenhuth 13. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 14. Nicholas Hynes 15. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 16. Sandor Earl 17. Darryn Schonig 18. Ryley Jacks 19. Chris Lewis 20. Albert Vete 21. Isaac Lumelume.
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
1. Tevita Funa, 2. Jorge Taufua, 3. Brad Parker, 4. Jack Gosiewski, 5. Reuben Garrick, 6. Cade Cust, 7. Daly Cherry-Evans, 8. Addin Fonua-Blake, 9. Danny Levi, 10. Marty Taupau, 11. Joel Thompson, 12. Curtis Sironen, 13. Jake Trbojevic, 14. Lachlan Croker, 15. Corey Waddell, 16. Sean Keppie, 17. Taniela Paseka, 18. Albert Hopoate, 19. Abbas Miski, 20. Morgan Boyle, 21. Haumole Olakau’atu.
This rivalry has some spice to it (the 2008 grand final and the 2011 “Battle of Brookvale” among the highlights). Melbourne hold a 21-15 head-to-head lead, and won their first meeting 18-4 way, way back in round one: Manly lead 4-2 at halftime, but a double to Suliasi Vunivalu saw Manly home comfortably.
BATTLE TO WATCH
Cameron Smith vs Danny Levi
Returning after three weeks on the sideline, the veteran captain is the perfect person to ensure Melbourne rebounds after the Parramatta loss and stays in touch with first-placed Penrith. Before that, Smith captained the Storm to six straight wins, including against Newcastle, when he only played for half-an-hour. No doubt Smith will use his experience to exploit a vulnerable Manly side.
Levi has played all 15 games for Manly this season, though he’s only played the full 80 in two of those. Levi gives away over 300 games experience against Smith, but he’ll need to rise, along with Daly Cherry-Evans, for Manly to pull off the upset.
The last time Melbourne lost two in a row was in 2018, so they’ll be looking to keep that record intact by beating Manly. The return of the two Cams will help them tremendously. While Manly will be desperate, the Storm should be too good.
Melbourne by 10.
Date: Sunday, August 30.
Venue: Sunshine Coast Stadium, Sunshine Coast.