Round 2: Sea Eagles v Eels preview
How do ya feel?
Ah, Manly v Parra. Always a bit of feeling. The oft-spoken about 1984 Tooheys commercial rings in everyone's mind every time these two come together - but both sets of fans are likely to be feeling a bit dejected after Round 1 losses.
For Sunday's hosts, the Sea Eagles, it was a case of switching on and off too often throughout a contest with a spirited Newcastle side who managed to reel them in during Golden Point extra time. While many expected the Knights to improve, Manly will have been disappointed to have missed out on competition points in their opening game of the season, and will be keen for redemption at home.
Parramatta were world-class in the opening stanza against Penrith last Sunday - then it all fell apart. Mitch Moses was sin binned for a professional foul, then Viliame Kikau tore the Eels' soft centre apart.
Despite this, the Parramatta lineup remains unchanged from last week. Manly on the other hand have shuffled a few players around, Brad Parker usurping Matt Wright in the backline, Jackson Hastings and Lloyd Perrett promoted to the bench over Lewis Brown and Frank Winterstein.
The key for Manly will no doubt to be get more ball and in more attacking position. They absorbed plenty of pressure in defence on Sunday and eventually cracked, while for the Eels just need to shore up their defence and make sure they don't run out of juice in the second forty.
This pair haven't met since last year's season opener incredibly - and on that occasion Parramatta got the choccies. Overall it's Manly who dominate the ledger between these two clubs, both overall (82 wins from 137 matches) and at home (42 from 63 at Lottoland). Sadly for the Sea Eagles though, they've not won in the last five clashes against the Eels.
Who to watch: Martin Taupau had a quality game last weekend and needs to carry that peformance into the second round. The bustling front rower chalked up 179 running metres and an impressive game-high five offloads. His presence will no doubt be a focus of the Eels defensive line when he's on the ball.
Nathan Brown recently re-signed for a few more years with the blue-and-golds, and despite a first-start loss put in a quality performance against Penrith in the opening round. Like Taupau, the Parramatta lock-forward was full of running with 141 metres and four offloads to boot. Easily one of the Eels' standouts, the 2017 Ken Thornett Medallist will feature if the visitors win this clash.
My tip: This could honestly be a coin toss. I'm leaning towards Parramatta who have the better side on paper - they just need to transfer that to the field. Eels by 4.