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4 hours ago
Old rivals to renew hostilities
Once seen as one of the best rivals in rugby league, the feud between Manly and Melbourne has somewhat dissipated in recent years as other teams have rocketed up the list to try to knock off the most consistent NRL team Melbourne (Cronulla is prob the first team that springs to mind). However that won't take anything away from this clash with both teams having a dislike for each other as well as Blake Green playing against his former club.
I don't think it will quite reach the "Battle of Brookvale" heights as it did a few years ago but this should still be a cracking contest. Melbourne are looking to consolidate stop spot on the ladder, albeit without Billy Slater. If Melbourne were to kiss both of those players it would boost Manly's hopes ten-fold. Cameron Munster shifts to fullback to cover Slater and Ryley Jacks comes into five-eighth, while Cameron Smith has been cleared to line up in his record 350th NRL match - every single one with the purple and navy.
Manly meanwhile are looking to bounce back after last week's 52-22 shellacking at the hands of St George Illawarra in Wollongong. They were missing the likes of Apisai Korisau, Blake Green and Brenton Lawrence which left a big dent in the attack area of the Sea Eagles. With not much space between teams in the top 8, every game becomes vital for the Sea Eagles and a win this week coupled with defeat to the teams above them could see it move into the top 4. The embarrassment will galvanise the Sea Eagles who won't be conceding scores like that again in 2017.
This has match of the round written all over it, hopefully it lives up to expectation as an entertaining fixture.
The Storm have won the last two matches against Manly which were both at Brookvale. Manly won the last clash at AAMI Park in 2015 (12-10) but apart from that have had a poor record down South with one win from five visits. Melbourne need nine tries to reach 400 tries at AAMI Park, a ground where it has 74% win ratio.
Who to watch: In the absence of Billy Slater look for Cameron Munster to move up a gear at the back. His improvement over the year has been impressive as was evident in his Origin debut. He has good pace, great ball playing skills and is incredibly strong which makes him hard to tackle. Look for him to have a stand out performance as the Storm look to consolidate top spot.
The return of Blake Green is pivotal to Manly's success in this match. He has been a great foil for halves partner Daly Cherry-Evans during 2017 and his absence was felt by no one more then DCE.
His organising play along with his deft touch with the boot has made him a vital cog for Manly this season. Adding to this is his experience in his position. A big in for Manly this week.
My tip: Hard to go past Melbourne at home even without Slater. They are such a well drilled side and still have fire power all over the park. Will be a close game but Melbourne's class to shine through yet again. Storm by 7.
1. Cameron Munster 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. William Chambers 4. Curtis Scott 5. Josh Addo-Carr 19. Jahrome Hughes 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 14. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Joe Stimson 13. Dale Finucane 10. Tim Glasby 15. Kenneath Bromwich 20. Slade Griffin 21. Jordan McLean
1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Matthew Wright 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 18. Lewis Brown 13. Jake Trbojevic 12. Shaun Lane 14. Cameron Cullen 17. Addin Fonua-blake 16. Darcy Lussick