While the 2018 #NRL Pre-Season is still a few weeks away, there's a bunch of warm-up clashes happeni...
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Two in-form sides close out the Saturday night double-header in Brisbane
The Sea Eagles have been one of the surprise packets of the 2017 season so far, with a victory this week possibly seeing the Manly club earn an unlikely spot in the Top Four. They come into this one off their strongest performance of the season to date - a 46-8 thumping of the Rabbitohs. Trent Barrett's men were in complete control, running in nine tries whilst keeping their opponents to just one. However, Barrett will be hoping his side continues their rich vein of form and do not fall victim to the same complacency which saw them walloped by the Dragons 35-10 earlier this year. That loss followed an impressive victory over the Roosters in the week prior. A surprising benefit of having a ‘home' game in Brisbane's backyard, however, is Manly's impressive record away from home, recording four victories and no losses this season.
However, they face no easy task as they take on a Brisbane outfit aiming for five straight wins. Wayne Bennett's men have proven themselves to be genuine contenders even without halfback Ben Hunt, yet this week they will have to do without centre James Roberts, who recorded two tries and six tackle busts in his side's 32-18 win over Penrith. Brisbane's effort in defence was particularly impressive in the opening 60 minutes, repelling a persistent albeit error-prone Penrith outfit until a concerning lapse in concentration saw the Panthers pile on three tries to give Bennett's men a late scare. Brisbane will need to have resolve in defence if they are to hold out a Manly side who have scored the second most points of any team this year.
Brisbane claimed a comfortable 30-6 win at Suncorp in last year's Round 10 clash.
Who to watch: For the Sea Eagles, look no further than halfback Daly Cherry-Evans. Cherry-Evans has been impressive so far this season, registering nine try assists and this week's game presents a perfect opportunity for him to press his claims for a spot in the Queensland State of Origin side given the likely absence of Jonathan Thurston.
After a man-of-the-match performance for the Kangaroos, look for Matt Gillett to make his mark on this contest. Gillett was a solid rock in defence in last week's 30-12 win over the Kiwis with 46 tackles whilst also making two line breaks in a stellar 80-minute performance. His strong defence is a key asset for the Brisbane side as they look to shut down a threatening and confident Manly outfit.
My tip: If Brisbane can hold strong in defence they have a good chance here. However, I believe Manly possess the attacking flair to make yet another statement, provided their forward pack stands up once more. Sea Eagles by 10.
1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Dylan Walker 4. Brian Kelly 5. Akuila Uate 6. Blake Green 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Brenton Lawrence 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Martin Taupau 11. Frank Winterstein 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Lewis Brown 15. Nate Myles 16. Jackson Hastings 17. Addin Fonua-blake
1. Darius Boyd 2. Corey Oates 3. Jordan Kahu 4. Tautau Moga 5. David Mead 6. Anthony Milford 7. Kodi Nikorima 16. Herman Essese 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Adam Blair 14. Alex Glenn 12. Matt Gillett 13. Josh Mcguire 8. Korbin Sims 11. Sam Thaiday 15. Joe Ofahengaue 17. George Fai