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2021 NRL Round 17 Preview, Sea Eagles Vs Raiders

Andrew Pelechaty previews the round 17 opener between Manly Warringah and Canberra at 4 Pines Park (Brookvale Oval). This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: 4 Pines Park, Date: Thursday July 8, Time: 7:50pm

Sea Eagles Team

  1. Reuben Garrick
  2. Jason Saab
  3. Brad Parker
  4. Morgan Harper
  5. Moses Suli
  6. Kieran Foran
  7. Dylan Walker
  8. Taniela Paseka
  9. Lachlan Croker
  10. Martin Taupau
  11. Haumole Olakau’atu
  12. Karl Lawton
  13. Sean Keppie
  14. Cade Cust
  15. Ben Trbojevic
  16. Kurt de Luis
  17. Toafofoa Sipley
  18. Jack Gosiewski
  19. Tevita Funa
  20. Jorge Taufua
  21. Tolutau Koula

Team Changes

IN: Cade Cust
Jack Gosiewski
Jorge Taufua
Tevita Funa
Tolutau Koula


OUT: Daly Cherry-Evans
Tom Trbojevic

Raiders Team

  1. Xavier Savage
  2. Semi Valemei
  3. Jarrod Croker
  4. Sebastian Kris
  5. Jordan Rapana
  6. Matt Frawley
  7. Sam Williams
  8. Emre Guler
  9. Josh Hodgson
  10. Dunamis Lui
  11. Corey Harawira-Naera
  12. Hudson Young
  13. Ryan Sutton
  14. Tom Starling
  15. Ryan James
  16. Isolia Soliola
  17. Joseph Tapine
  18. Matthew Timoko
  19. Trey Mooney
  20. Brad Schneider
  21. Harry Rushton

Team Changes

IN: Brad Schneider
Harry Rushton
Hudson Young
Matt Frawley
Ryan James
Trey Mooney
Xavier Savage


OUT:
Bailey Simonsson
Elliott Whitehead
Jack Wighton
Josh Papalii

Referee: Adam Gee

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Sea Eagles

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Manly Warringah have arguably been the fairytale story of 2021: after a poor 2020, they looked like wooden spoon contenders after losing their first four games (minus Tom Trbojevic). They, they squeezed out a last-minute win against the Warriors, Tommy Turbo returned, and they went on an amazing run, winning eight out of their last 10 to move closer to the top four.

They showed no mercy against an undermanned Canterbury-Bankstown last week, winning 66-0. Though Turbo’s return has captured all the headlines (14 tries from nine games), Reuben Garrick is the NRL’s top point-scorer (182), while Jason Saab has scored 16 tries in 15 games.

Garrick replaces Turbo (Origin) at fullback, while Dylan Walker replaces Daly Cherry-Evans (Origin) at halfback, and Cade Cust is on the interchange bench.

Raiders

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Like Homer Simpson falling down Springfield Gorge, Canberra’s horrible season keeps find new rock bottoms. It’s amazing that a club who were 10 minutes from becoming 2019 premiers, and defied crucial injuries and travel dramas to make the 2020 preliminary final, have fallen so far so quickly. Their “performance” against the Gold Coast Titans was as bad as the dark days of 2014, when they finished second last. While the 2021 Raiders have a habit of blowing big leads, they didn’t even get that far last weekend: the Titans scored four tries in 20 minutes to lead 22-0 at half-time, three of them with David Fifita in the sin-bin. It was so bad that Raiders fans started to leave midway through the second half. They’ve endured a lot in the last 25 years, so to walk out that early says a lot about the club’s troubles.

While Ricky Stuart made noise about mass changes following the Titans loss, the majority of changes here are forced due to Origin/injury.

Xavier Savage replaces Bailey Simmonson (who’s out for four to six weeks with a toe injury) at fullback; Matt Frawley replaces Wighton (Origin) at five-eighth; Hudson Young replaces the injured Elliott Whithead in the second row; Emre Guler replaces Josh Papalii (Origin) at prop; and Ryan James joins the bench.

PREVIEW

Manly are within striking distance of a vital top four finish, so they’ll expect to win this, and win it well. They have a healthy +131 differential, and will want to increase that, as it could decide who finishes between third and sixth (with Melbourne and Penrith comfortably in the top two). If Manly can keep winning and sneak into the top four, a Brookvale Oval semi-final or preliminary final will be their reward.

KEY STAT

Manly have been Canberra’s bogey team over the last few years (with a 19-13 advantage since 1998); they always find a way to get under the Raiders’ skin and rattle them. Even when Canberra marched to the 2019 grand final, Manly still beat them twice, including an 18-14 win a week after Canberra had secured a famous win in Melbourne the week before.

This rivalry goes way back to 1995, when Manly and Canberra both went 20-2, but Manly beat Canberra in their only clash. Going back even further, Manly beat Canberra in the 1987 grand final; it was the Raiders’ first grand final appearance, with four more to follow in the next decade.

Manly beat Canberra in their only game in 2020, 14-6 in round six at Canberra’s temporary home at Campbelltown. But it proved costly, with Turbo’s injury starting their slide down to the bottom four.

PREDICTION

Sorry, Raiders fan, but you’re in for another painful night. Even without Turbo and DCE, Manly should still win this comfortably. 

Sea Eagles by 20.

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