Round 19: Sea Eagles v Wests Tigers preview - 2017 Round 19
Next generation Silvertails v Fibros!
Working their way into the top four off the back of five consecutive wins, the Sea Eagles were left to rue ill discipline in their 16-8 loss to Penrith last Saturday night. Having defended stoutly to go try for try with the Panthers, a mammoth 14-4 penalty count against Trent Barrett's charges compounded by poor goal kicking prevented the Sea Eagles from going equal second, resulting in the side being locked in a three-way tie for fourth position alongside Brisbane and North Queensland. Returning home for a seemingly sure thing against the lowly ranked Wests Tigers, the Sea Eagles will be wary of the joint venture following their confidence building demolition of Newcastle a fortnight ago. Retaining the bulk of the side that went down last week, Jake Trbojevic is set to return barring any injury sustained in Wednesday night's Origin decider, while Shaun Lane retains his place in the backrow after impressing in just his second game for the club.
Exorcising the demons of a seven match losing run to outclass the Knights a fortnight ago, the Tigers face a difficult task on the northern beaches this Sunday. Winning just once in their past eight visits to the venue formerly known as Brookvale Oval all the way back in 2003, coach Ivan Cleary will be hopeful representative stars Aaron Woods and James Tedesco back up from Wednesday night to enhance the chances of the side avoiding the ignominy of claiming their maiden wooden spoon. Having been sidelined for the past six weeks, versatile forward Chris Lawrence will make his return from injury at the expense of Joel Edwards who reverts back to the bench. Having been late inclusions in the win over Newcastle, mid-season recruits Alex Twal and Malakai Watene-Zelezniak will be on standby should Woods and Tedesco fail to get through the Origin decider unscathed.
Last meeting: Round 2 2016 - Wests Tigers 36 Sea Eagles 22
Who to watch: After bursting onto the scene with a stellar rookie season at Canterbury two years ago, backrower Shaun Lane has been lost in the NRL wilderness in recent times. Linking up with the Warriors last season only to feature once in first grade, the 22-year-old has been left to languish in reserve grade for most of 2017, but following a long-term injury to Curtis Sironen, Lane will be looking to cement a starting position in the run towards September. Among the Sea Eagles best performers in the loss to Penrith last Saturday, Lane has shown in limited game time the impact he is capable of leaving with try-assists, an ability to find open space and stamina to go the distance.
Producing one of his finest performances to date against the Knights a fortnight ago, Tigers halfback Luke Brooks will need to consolidate his improved form against one of the league's resurgent sides. Running for a career high 177 metres in the win over Newcastle, the 22-year-old playmaker faces a pivotal match-up against the competitions in-form halfback in Daly Cherry-Evans that will go a long way towards determining the victor of Sunday's match. As the only member of the clubs off-contract stars to re-sign with the joint venture, Brooks has the potential to forge a storied career at the Tigers for years to come, but having struggled at times early on in his career, Sunday will be significant to prove he has what it takes to be consistent in the NRL.
My tip: While the Tigers will be hopeful their win over Newcastle sparks a late season resurgence, the Sea Eagles have proven their worth as a force this season to bounce back with a vengeance from the disappointment of their trek to the foot of the mountains. Sea Eagles by 14.